“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah 61 v 10
Six months ago I would have read this verse and it would have barely registered with me. Six months ago if someone had told me that main problem in life was the fact that I did not delight in God I would looked at them in a quizzical manner because the very concept of delighting in God would have seemed alien to my mind. Six months ago I was a cold hearted, unfeeling and blind fool. And in all likelihood I could write that same sentence in six months time and it would still be true.
What have I learnt since then? I have learnt much and most of it the hard way. But foundational point number one would be that my soul has a yearning to delight in something. I seek a satisfaction that has to be found, a fulfilment that has to be fulfilled, my soul is thirsty and needs water and in my folly I sought this out from things that were not God.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Jeremiah 2 v 13
I dug broken cisterns that could hold no water and could bring no lasting satisfaction and no lasting delight. I drank mud and drank rarely when all the time there was a foundation of living water, my God, who was waiting for me to realize my folly, turn to him and find all that I did not know I looked for.
In the last few months God, in the riches of his mercy, has shown me what was wrong. I have listened to Mike Reeves at New Word Alive and Transformission speak on the love of God and our response of delight to it. I have read Piper’s ‘When I don’t desire God’ and sermons at my church of late have challenged me as well.
What have I learnt? Mainly that there is nothing worse than a cold heart towards God, my Father, and the all together lovely one. For what is more insulting to the fountain of living water than to delight in other things and not delight in him at all? But oh, how I have learnt the solution to such a wrong!
“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4 v 19
This is the basic principle to work from. If you find yourself unmoved by the beauty of God then stop and take the time to consider his love for you. As Isaiah writes in the verses I quoted ‘my soul rejoices in my God’ why? ‘For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.’ There is nothing that warms the cold heart more than thinking upon your own salvation.
For, I find, to think of my salvation is to by necessity think of Jesus Christ and to see him hanging on the cross, crucified, for my sins and to take the wrath of God I deserved and now risen and exalted and my King and Saviour and why then the only possible reaction is to delight in the love of Christ for me and to delight in the God of abundant grace and goodness.
To delight upon God is to see him for the source of all love and life and to be so moved by his beauty as to find satisfaction merely in the act of contemplating him. And this is hard, so hard, for it is so easy to lose sight of the wonderfulness and majesty of our God.
“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”
Psalm 27 v 4
Conservative evangelicals can be bad at remembering that our God, who is all powerful, all knowing and is wrath against sin, is also predominately a God who is beautiful to behold. We need to cultivate a longing for a deeper relationship with him and a greater appreciation for his love for us. Above all we need to pray to God that he would grant us that delight in him he wants us to have. For delight in God comes from God as with all things.
Because if you don’t delight in God, and take this for someone who knows this to be true, you will suffer greatly. Instead of the peace of God that transcends all understanding you find turmoil and anguish. You swap delight in God for delight in some other thing that cannot fail to disappoint and ruin you. As it is written:
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
Psalm 84 v 10
In all that I have said I’ve missed out something really, really, vitally important: delighting God is the ultimate expression of what it means to be human and as such is better than anything else. Better is one day in the courts of God than anything else at all. God alone can satisfy the desires of a soul. God alone is worth ultimately delighting in. Why delight in creation when you can delight in the Creator? By all means delight in all of creation through delighting in the Creator but make sure God comes first because otherwise you’ll be digging those cracked and empty cisterns.
“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4 v 13 – 14
As Jesus says, whoever drinks of him will never thirst. This means that if we delight in God we can never not be fulfilled, there is always more, there is so much of God to delight in we can never be done, he’s not going to run out!
There is nothing more sweet and precious to the soul than spending time delighting in God and in all that he has done. There is nothing more refreshing than thinking of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour and Friend. There is nothing more joyous than loving God because he first loved us.
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37 v 4
Now this may all seem too much; too great a burden to bear and even in writing this I feel the coldness of my stubborn heart and I feel keenly my lack of delight in God. But take heart! Even to recognise cold heartedness is a good place to be in for it means that we know that something is wrong. And the solution as with all things is to turn to God and to see his love that he lavishes on us despite of out unresponsiveness and to find our hearts warmed by his divine and lovely countenance and his great and glorious goodness.
“In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”
Ephesians 1 v 7