Thursday, October 17, 2013

The heart of our desires

Turns out, even living in a castle in France's Loire Valley can't eternally satisfy.

 "Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart."—Psalm 37:4

Psalm 37:4 is one of those verses. The kind that everybody memorizes in Sunday School; A pretty promise that we Christians are particularly fond of naming and claiming.

I wonder sometimes about this one, though. Sure, we can all quote the verse. But are we getting it right? Do we understand what we're saying? Do we know what it really means?

For a long time, I thought of Psalm 37:4 like an if/then equation—"If I read my Bible, pray, and go to church enough, then God will come out of the lamp to grant my every wish."

Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous, this interpretation. And wrong. Like, F-minus on the test kinda wrong.

In her devotional book titled Jesus Calling, author Sarah Young phrases it this way: "Delight yourself in the Lord, for He is the Desire of your heart."

This seems like a small change at first, right? Just a slight variation in sentence structure. But I think the distinction goes much deeper than the syntax—right down into the heart of things, in fact. In our self-centered humanity, it's easy to approach Psalm 37:4 as a formula by which we can attain God's favor and get everything we really-really-really want in life. But here's the slightly harder, but so much more fulfilling truth:

If we delight ourselves in the Lord He will always be faithful to give us the desires of our hearts, because at the base of every earthly desire is a hunger for Him. The things of this earth can only temporarily satisfy the ultimate God-space within us. Note: This truth even applies to good earthly things (like marriage, deep friendships, high honors and accolades, and ministry positions). These kinds of longings might masquerade as the desires of our heart. We might even feel a deep, physical pang at the thought of never getting married, or fulfilling our potential, or achieving our goals. But ultimately...

...accepting a marriage proposal will not forever-fill the deep longing we have for completed and perfected companionship. There is no human on this earth that has the "other half" we spend so much time seeking. Only God can meet that need.

I know you're not meant to be my "everything," but I still like looking at you.

...rising to the top of our field does not guarantee a life-long feeling of affirmation or the sense that we've "made it." Only God can impart the kind of blessed assurance that makes it possible for us to truly "cease striving."

...seeing our biggest, most fantastic dreams come to life cannot satiate our craving for more: more adventure, more travel, more goals, more dreams. Only God can satisfy—period. 

If Psalm 37:4 is an equation, I think it goes more like this: Reveling in more of God = Being satisfied by more of God. Nothing else—nothing else—can bring the fulfillment of the Father.

So we take delight in Him. How? By learning to acclaim Him. By seeing a sunset and praising His artistry. By languishing in His Word. By accepting His love. By believing His promises. By trusting Him with everything we've got. By walking by faith instead of sight. By knowing His Truth. By imitating Christ. By seeking first His kingdom. By relinquishing control. By acknowledging His name in all times, seasons, and circumstances. And thus the "heart" of all our earthly desires—to know Him more and glorify His name—are met.

No genie-in-a-lamp required.

. . .
My eyes are ever on Your hands,
What I want, a list of my demands.
Like an undisciplined child I stomp my feet.
Feeling thwarted
I rage, I curse, I weep.

Yet from You no condemnation,
Only love and affirmation.
You say to me, "You are mine.
Trust me, believe me.
Look up, into My eyes."

But I wrestle out of Your embrace,
It's Your hands I seek,
And not Your face.
I grasp only for the gift, ignoring the Giver.
Oh Father, help me to wait for what only You can deliver!
Because that thing I want and hold so dear
Can never satisfy My heart or stop my tears.

May this Valley of Baca, this place of tears,
Be my reminder that You listen; my God Who hears.
While my heart is still so tender,
Jesus, help me to surrender.

"Look Up," by Ann Osborn

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