Delight in the Lord
by Greg Johnson
December 10, Thursday – Psalms 37:1–18, 37:19–42; Amos 9:1–10; Rev. 2:8–17; Matt. 23:13–26
(ESV Daily Office Readings Online)
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
War in the Middle East. Terror in Paris. Killings in California. Mass migration in Europe. Cultural conflict on a local college campus. Angst at Advent. And the sun rose brightly, brilliantly over the Smokies this morning, their silhouette shimmering as I jogged to shake the shivers from the cold world around me.
My path was my daily way, the place I go to walk or jog most every day, most days starting before dawn, out the door into the end of night when moon hangs high and its beams light my path. I exercise my heart on those roads, taking the hills to make the muscle in my chest grow stronger.
But as I walk I pray. The Creed. The Confession. Intercession. Petition. Ending with the Our Father, chanted, in the style of the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani. The talking with God helps my heart, too. If I exercise to strengthen it, I commune with the Creator in the midst of His Creation to soften it.
Here’s another confession: the calamities on every side have distracted me. The world assaults us, haunts us, hurts us in our hearts and minds by distracting us from the beauty that surely abounds in Creation and his created ones. We miss the glory of the sun painting the sky, the majesty of geese at flight overhead, the tenderness of a loved ones touch and the giddy smiles of anticipation on the faces of kids of all ages.
Yet the goodness of God has been, for me, muted by the badness of the world. Conflict and killings and epochal shifts in humanity have roared so loud I’ve not heard my heart so clearly. Worse, I’ve not heard the heart of God as well as I ought, as well as I’d like, as well as I want.
David shows us the calming cure for my inner cacophony. He knew of what I speak. He was hounded and hunted and harried by former friends. His world, after he was anointed for the kingship, roared and raged, putting him to flight into the desert, running for his life. He hid in caves in the wilderness.
Last year, I walked in the Galilee, descending off Mount Arbel, near Tiberias, above the sea, passing centuries-old caves on the descent. I got lost on my way to Capernaum, taking a “divine detour” into Nakhul Ahmud – the Stream of the Pillar – surrounded by caves in the canyon walls. As I walked up the dry streambed, the canyon was deep enough to help me understand David’s “valley of the shadows.”
Yet David, in his troubled personal and political times, reminded us to delight in the Lord daily and God would give us the desires of our heart. For when we delight in the Lord, even in perilous, confusing, frustrating, frightening times, we ultimately learn that our utmost desire is for Him. Come Lord Jesus.
Image by Philippe Leroyer (used by permission via Creative Commons).