Thursday, April 2, 2009

Delighting

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Ps 37:4)
The journey motif is one of the most powerful and meaningful image of a Christian walk. We ready our resources. We plan our routes. We arrange our itinerary. Sometimes we design Plan B in case of interruptions or unforeseen events during our voyage. There are 3 phases of a person's journey. The first is excitement and novelty. The third is anticipation of the destination. It is the middle that creates a kind of stuck-in-the-middle feeling. At the middle, one feels that it is too late to turn back, and too tired to carry on forward. The latter needs encouragement to press on. The former needs reminder of the original goals and purposes. Either way, the person needs to decide to proceed or to call it quits. However, there is a third option. He/she can intentionally schedule breaks. Whatever it is, at every stage, one's delight of the journey being taken, makes a big difference in the attitude and the aptitude. After all, it is the attitude (the heart), not the aptitude (the skills) that determines the altitude (the height). I suggest that this is in the delighting.

We are in the midst of another big move in 9 months. Due to the unique circumstances, we embarked upon this move in order to meet the requirements of our growing children. The work is huge, with cleaning up to be done on both the old and new places. Nearly every box packed at the old house has to be unpacked at the new. The work is tremendous, and this is on top of our current commitments at work and at school. In the midst of rushing to complete our tasks of unpacking and organizing, sometimes we get frustrated over not finding our stuff, and having to live literally 'out of the box.' What happens when one feels overworked, exhausted and totally discouraged from all the work? We found our respite in taking short breaks in between. Lots of them. This period of break is also a time to reflect back thankfully on the old and to reaffirm our delight in a brighter future. I find that while reminiscing in the past may carry with it some nostalgia, looking forward with pleasure and delight of the promised rewards spurred us forward more powerfully. It is the desire for the better life that makes one feel that it is all worthwhile. Phillip Sheldrake, a professor at Durham University in the UK describes the connection between desires and identities.
The more authentic our desires, the more they touch upon our identities and also upon the reality of God at the heart of our being. Our most authentic desires spring ultimately from the deep inner wells where the longing for God runs freely.(Philip Sheldrake, Befriending Our Desires)
This sense of identity is also sharply brought across in our relationships with one another. He continues:
Desires are best understood as our most honest experiences of ourselves, in all our complexity and depth, as we relate to people and things around us.
Indeed, Sheldrake communicates a depth about desiring that dovetails into our passage in Psalms.

'Delight yourself in the Lord' is something that can be seen as reminiscing in the past faithfulness of God. Think of how God has been leading us through the years, and to give thanks. When we allow ourselves to fall into the embracing arms of God, we begin to see that the worries and the worldly concerns of the world does not seem so important anymore. In fact, safe in the arms of our Father, God's light becomes our delight. God's desires overwhelms all of ours. Above all, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, we realize who we are made for, what we are created to do, and how we can go about the fulfill the will of God. "And he shall give you the desires of your heart" becomes re-interpreted as not our will, but God's will be done. Too often, we see 'delighting in God' as a BACKLIGHT for our own greed and wantings. We fail to see that God wants to make us the LIGHT of the world. When we use our delighting in God as a backlight, or a headlight, we can become guilty of trying to bend God toward our selfish covetousness. Will we not be better off, by allowing God to turn us into HIS LIGHT instead? Will it be more beneficial for all if our delighting in God is actually an earnest "desiring-after-God-for-who-He-is" rather than "desiring-after-God-for-his-gifts-only"? God forbid. Let us delight ourselves in God for who He is. He will give us the authentic desires of our hearts, to help us realize exactly what we need. The one who claims to know exactly what he needs is a fool. The one who trusts God to teach him what he needs is a humble child of God.

Thought: What are the desires of your heart? Is it anchored on your personal sense of identity? Or is it a competitive reaction because others have it, so I must have it?
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)”

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