My word this year is delight. Looking back on 2013, there were many moments and experiences that, truthfully, weren't what I'd call "delightful." I described the year as challenging, and of course that can be a good thing, a necessary vehicle for change, but not always super fun to deal with. I'm not one of those people who believes that happiness is the ultimate measure of success or that it's necessarily even guaranteed by doing right or serving God. Sometimes circumstances make it next to impossible to be happy, and that's okay. I prefer the word "joy" which indicates an established mindset, not a fickle emotion. So, with that qualifier in place, I also believe firmly that God wants His children to be happy... after all, He is able "to do exceeding abundantly above what we could ask or think." (Eph. 3:20) And with the challenges we've faced, I know in my subconscious that I should be popping out of bed every morning with a smile on my face and thrilled to pieces to go about my day because I get to serve the Creator of the universe... but has that really happened? More often than not... no. And it's time to change that, in every area possible.
I want to delight in my walk with Christ. I want to delight in my marriage. I want to delight in my home. I want to delight in my relationships. I want to delight in a healthy lifestyle (haha.) I want to delight in reading good books. I want to delight in new opportunities, without deflecting them in fear. I want to delight in pushing myself to accomplish things that had never even crossed my mind before the past couple of years. I want to delight in encouraging others (which is usually more beneficial when I'm down than waiting around for someone to encourage me.) I want to delight in a few new things occasionally, savoring new purchases because I really love them. I want to delight in saving up and taking trips and exploring. I want to delight in searching the Scriptures and discovering truths from God's word.
Speaking of God's word, I have often read this Psalm 37:4 and thought (and heard it talked about this way) that it meant, in essence, "Get close to God and He'll give you what you want." I wasn't picturing a prosperity gospel but more of the misguided "Romans 8:28, all things are for good" kind of thinking that sounds great and looks nice on a Pinterest graphic but is not necessarily true. (That's for another post, though.) But when I used a commentary, it said that the first part, "Delight thyself in the Lord," means to expect all your happiness in Him. Not just, "I love Jesus so I'm happy," but literally, "I cannot be happy apart from Jesus; in fact, I expect Him to be the source of all my joy." I think we're all big boys and girls and have learned that circumstances, places, and people let you down. At the end of the day, if I'm "expecting happiness" or delighting in anything other than Christ, I'm going to be disappointed. So if I want to "delight in" the things mentioned above, I better be certain that each of them, each aspect of my life, is centered firmly on God.
So, if I do that- center everything on God- then comes the good part, right? I get the desires of my heart! I get what I want... and I want it now! (Do I sound like Veruca Salt yet?) Actually, the commentary went on to say this: the Hebrew word for desires is mishaloth, which literally means "petitions." In other words, God will give me the things my heart has asked of Him in prayer. So my selfish desires, my fleshly, carnal wishes, don't apply here. If I wouldn't ask God for it, it doesn't count! (Of course, we do tend to ask God for things, even with good intentions, that He knows are not best for us.) But a desire of mine could be for God to remove a difficult situation just for the sake of making my life easier. But that's not a true petition to God as much as it is a selfish request on my part. These "desires of my heart" that God will give me must be grounded in a God-centered happiness, which eliminates quite a bit of what comes to mind when we think of our own personal wants, right?
Delight and desire... they go hand in hand. If I'm truly seeking happiness in Christ, then my desires, my petitions, will reflect that. And conversely, if I've got a mile-long list of desires but find myself looking to other areas of life to complete me, missing the "delighting" part, then those desires will go unfulfilled.
I truly believe that my Heavenly Father, who made me, knows me better than I know myself, gifted me in specific areas, and wrote my life story before the world began, wants me to delight in every area. If I'm seeking after Him, He promised that He'd give me the desires of my heart... those things nearest and dearest to me. And that's pretty incredible, because I'm near and dear to Him. He delights in me, and that reality alone is reason to live out and claim this promise.
This picture exemplifies delight in my mind. =)
Unshakable happiness? Petitions answered? Dreams fulfilled? Sounds delightful.
What's your word of the year?