"Holy transitions!" I was telling a friend not too long after graduating and going straight into grad school. Maybe if I thought of them as holy and molding me to be more like Jesus each and every day, it wouldn't be so hard.
I don’t have a life right now. When I’m not studying or writing papers, I’m at preschool or church. When I’m not at church or preschool, I’m studying or writing papers. That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s not very exciting, not very glamorous. I wipe snot, change diapers, and try to teach letters, numbers, and shapes to babies whose attention spans and fuses are very, very short all while inwardly stressing about all the homework I have waiting for me as soon as I get off work.
As if that wasn't enough, I moved back home and into my childhood home with my family. I went from complete independence to living with my family again. WOAH.
I say all of that to say, where I am right now is not where I thought I’d be when I embarked on this whole college thing my freshman year.
Here's some questions for you to answer in your mind:
Where are you in your life right now?
How many of you have envisioned in your mind where you’ll be in your life in the next 5 to 10 years (whether you’re single, dating, engaged, what kind of apartment you’ll live in, what job you’ll have, what kind of dog you’ll adopt, whatever…)?
How many of you have a Pinterest board for every single thing I just mentioned?
Y'all, I've got both hands up for that one!
When I started college, I had a plan. I won’t bore you with all the details but I’ll hit the highlights:
Music minor – didn’t happen
Go back to home and teach second grade – didn’t happen
After first year teaching, go to grad school – Nope
Major in Elementary Education – Isn’t happening.
Be married by the end of my first year of teaching – Not even funny y’all.
Have/adopt child #1 by 28 – To be determined
When I moved in, on an index card taped to my wardrobe and my mirror in Small Hall was a verse that I THOUGHT I knew what it meant and maybe you guys have heard it too,
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
In my 18 year old mind, I hoped and prayed that this meant by the end of my freshman year the Lord would miraculously bring my future husband into my life, I would have tons of friends, be on homecoming court, and basically be everything I was too scared to be in high school.
I learned very quickly that what I wanted for myself and what Jesus wanted for me were two very different things. BUT THIS VERSE? Mainstream Christianity had taught me that if I loved Jesus enough, He would give me all of my hopes and dreams simply because I wanted them.
If you look at that verse alone, that’s kinda what it seems like. “Delight yourself in the Lord” – Love Jesus, “and He will give you the desires of your heart” – He’ll give you what you want.
I am not at all saying that Jesus doesn’t want to give you what your heart desires most. Please don’t misunderstand me – But there is a little more to it than that. In order to receive what we “desire most” from Jesus we must have three things. I’ll list them for you right now and then I’ll go back and explain:
Let’s take a look at the first concept, longing.
1. In order for us to delight ourselves in the Lord and for Him to give us the desires of our hearts, we MUST desire Him and long for HIM FIRST. (vs.3-6)
There are three commands we see in these verses: Trust, dwell, and delight and I don’t think it’s any accident that they are in this specific order.
Trust means "Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one on which confidence is placed" – “Trust in the Lord”
Dwell means "To live or continue in a given condition or state; dwell in happiness – “Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” - NIV says we will “Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture”
Delight means "A high degree of gratification or pleasure; synonyms are 'joy,' 'rejoice,' 'triumph.'"
In order for us to delight in the Lord, we have to trust Him first. We must be assured of His character, ability, strength, and the truth of His Word and that He is who He says He is. Once we have that trust, we will “dwell in the land.”
When I first read the phrase "dwell in the land" it confused me a little but when I considered Jewish history, it made a little more sense as to why this would be the best possible scenario for them. To dwell in the land meant to be in the land promised by the Lord and to live in His presence. It was something that was promised to Abraham, what Moses abandoned his cushy Egyptian prince lifestyle for, what Joshua fought for, and ultimately, what Jesus died for. But the cross gives us a new perspective. For us, to dwell in the land doesn’t mean a part of this world where the land is flowing with milk and honey. It means to live each and every day sold out for Jesus in obedience to His Word and our promised land is in heaven with Jesus forever.
Once we completely trust Jesus, desiring Him above all else, walk with Him and following Him and His Word, we will find delight and joy in Him. We can rejoice in Him.
I’m going to pause that one right there and let’s look at number 2, commitment:
2. Our delight and trust in Jesus must go beyond a feeling. Our delight and trust must be seen in our commitment to Jesus and our actions, public and private. (vs. 3-6, 8, 27-31)
Obedience to God's commands is not a foreign concept to us. Throughout Scripture God tells us, “Be holy, therefore as I am holy.” James tells us that “Faith without works is dead” and that our faith in Christ is demonstrated by what we do. The Bible is a guidebook to the way we are to live our lives daily. We all struggle and we all fall short of meeting the standard set by God. There’s grace in our failures and also a call to live tomorrow better than we lived today.
The same call is echoed in Psalm 34.
“COMMIT your way to the Lord” (vs. 5)
“Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones” (vs. 27-28)
“The law of his God is in his hear; his feet do not slip.” (vs. 31)
“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath…” (vs. 8)
Even when we go back to verse 3 it says, “Trust in the Lord and do good…” All of these verses are talking about our actions that are a result of our faith and delight in Jesus. The Lord desires for us to trust Him and to act on that trust.
I think sometimes it’s hard for us to trust Jesus and act on that trust when He is calling us to do something hard or uncomfortable or painful because we don’t know what will happen, we can’t see ahead in the future. All we can see if what is right in front of us. But that’s where our trust in Jesus is so important.
The trust Jesus is calling us to is one of complete and total surrender. It requires us to take up our cross and follow Him. It means we’re in this until the end and we’ll go where He leads.
Jesus is calling us to TRUST: His word, His will, His way.
Trust His word: He is who He says He is. He will never leave us or forsake us.
Trust His will: God has a plan for our lives that is more wonderful than we could ever ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) In order to experience that will, we have to surrender and say, “Father Your will and not mine.”
Trust His way: We leave it all at the foot of the cross. We not only say “Father Your will and not mine” but we actually follow Him where He leads, no matter the cost. We can do this because we trust His word and we know that His plan is working for our good (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11)
As if those two weren’t difficult enough on their own, here is number 3, faithfulness:
3. When we desire Jesus above all else, we can trust Him with our biggest dreams for ourselves and remain faithful to Him and His will as we wait on Him and His timing. (vs. 4-6, 34)
Three times in this Psalm, the Lord tells us “Do not fret…” In verse 8 He says, “Do not fret- it only leads to evil.” When we worry, we pick back up the burdens we laid at the cross. We try to make our dreams happen on our terms and in our timing. The Bible gives us so many examples of how going outside the Lord’s will and timing because someone was worried the Lord wouldn’t do what He said He would. Can we say Abraham, anyone? When we make it happen on our own, we’re saying “Lord, I don’t trust You. I don’t believe You are who You say You are. I don’t believe You will be faithful to Your promises.”
“Wait for the Lord and keep His way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.” (verse 34)
Your faithfulness does not go unnoticed by God. You are seen, heard, and dearly loved.
So let’s revisit our original verse. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Delighting ourselves in the Lord isn’t so much about going to church or doing our best to follow the ten commandments with the expectation that Jesus will bless us. Delighting ourselves in the Lord is about desiring Him above all else, committing our lives to following Him, and being faithful to Him as we wait. As we follow Him and serve Him and learn to trust Him more day by day, He changes the desires of our heart. When we are in relationship with Jesus, our desires begin to line up with His desires for our life – His desires for our life is His best for us.
If you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of His heart which have become the desires of your heart.
The desires of my heart are very different than they were the first time I set foot on this campus. But I’m also closer to Jesus than I was my freshman year. My desires have changed and my longing for Him has changed, grown deeper.
How has your longing for Him grown deeper? Are you delighting in Him, His word, His will, and His way? Are you being faithful in the waiting or are you trying to make things happen? Do your desires for your life match up with His desires?
I am currently a teacher and life-long student of Scripture learning more about life and Jesus's marvelous love and boundless grace.