There was a five-year-old little girl I once knew, with blonde hair pulled back lightly back from her face into a ponytail that bounced wherever she went. She spent her mornings coloring pictures, playing “house” with her little sister, and helping her mom prepare lunch. Although she enjoyed all these things, no matter the day, she always looked forward to one thing: her dad coming home for lunchbreak.
Amidst the whirl of helping her mom set the table, she would dash to the large front bay window of her home. Nose squashed against the pane, marker-stained fingers smudging the window, she’d watch eagerly for the large Ford diesel farm truck to come rumbling up the driveway. Typically, she’d hear it before she saw it. Waiting eagerly, the little girl would give her mom frequent updates of “still don’t see ‘em!” The girl’s eyes would light up and her heartbeat quicken as soon as she heard the crunching of the wheels on the long driveway and the rattle of the engine drawing near. Soon, the large silver truck would pull into view, with her dad behind the wheel.
Peeling herself away from the window, the little girl would burst into the kitchen: “Mom, he’s here!” Then she would sprint to the door leading to the garage, waiting anxiously for her father to open it. When he appeared, she’d fling her small frame into his strong, outstretched hands for a big bear hug, squealing and telling him all about her morning. Breathing in the familiar stench of cow manure and hay, she’d feel nothing but utter joy, deep love, and boundless admiration in the arms of her dad. It was quite obvious to any observer that she delighted in him.
Delight. To define it is incredibly difficult, yet the feeling is undeniable when one experiences it. The Psalmist in Psalm 37 also speaks of delight. Verse 4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
The first part of the verse is an instruction to us. “Delight yourself in the Lord”. The Psalmist is encouraging us to find delight in God. Like the little girl delighting in her father, do we delight in our heavenly Father? The little girl cherished time with her dad, eagerly looking forward to seeing him and telling him all about her day. It was not a burden for her to see him: it was a delight. What if we, too, enjoyed simply being with God? The little girl didn’t need to go out to a fancy restaurant with her dad to revel in his company. He didn’t need to be dressed in a suit and tie. Just being with him was enough. So often in our busy lives, spending time in God’s Word and talking to him through prayer can seem like another thing to check off our to-do list. It becomes a burden. Like the little girl, we need to enjoy the time we have to spend with our Father.
Like much instruction in the Bible, this passage is not left without a promise: “…and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Initially after reading this, I selfishly thought about my own desires. I interpreted it as if spending time with God every day would give me the career of my dreams, good health, maybe even a new car. But the longer I pondered, the more I saw the error of my thoughts. This verse is not necessarily saying God will give us what we want; rather, when we find our delight in him, he will give us new desires. My initial focus was wrong. But my interpretation has changed, as I now believe the Psalmist is trying to tell us that when we delight in God, we are given new desires, rather than having our present desires fulfilled.
Once again, I can relate this understanding to the little girl and her father. (Probably because that little girl was me.)
I delighted in my father. Not only did I love being with him, I wanted to be like him, too. I looked up to him in every way. From the greasy baseball cap on his head to the muddy work boots on his feet, I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. One of my favorite things to do was to follow my dad around the farm in my own little pair of boots, helping him with the chores. The more I spent time with and delighted in my dad, the more my desires became like his.
Similarly, when we delight in our heavenly Father, our desires will begin to align with his. The more we are with God, finding joy in him, the more we desire to become like him. Contrary to my original interpretation, our heavenly Father will give us actual desires (his desires), rather than our earthly wants, when we delight ourselves in Him.
Now, this is not to say that God never grants his children earthly desires. My dad loved to come home with suckers in his pockets because he knew they would make his daughters’ faces light up. Likewise, I believe God also finds pleasure in giving gifts of blessing to his children.
Since we know God will keep his end of the deal in giving us “the desires of our hearts”, what are tangible ways that we can do our part of delighting in Him? First, I find that delighting in God often requires me to have a childlike faith. That is, to find joy and awe in the little things in life: a newborn calf, the unique formation of a snowdrift, a Scripture verse you’ve read many times but only now have begun to understand. Bask in God’s creation. Talk to him. Read his word. Enjoy simply being with him. Take Delight.
For this devotional, take some time today to just enjoy time with your heavenly Father. Delight in Him, and let him give you new desires. His desires.