Psalm 37:4

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will grant you the desires of your heart.”

I’ve been pondering this verse all day and decided to try this verse-mapping technique I read about here: http://arabahjoy.com/verse-mapping-beginners-unlock-scriptures/ – the essence of it is very similar to practical criticism we used to do in Lit classes, which is to unravel the density of meaning a particular phrase has by rephrasing it while understanding it in context. 

So here are my thoughts:

Take delight in the Lord, and He will grant you the desires of your heart.”
1) What does it mean to “take delight in?” I think it means to be joyful in doing His will, no matter how unpalatable I may find it. To joyfully serve, despite difficulties, and to keep my eyes trained on Him and His joy, no matter what my own will is. To set aside my own will to do His will, to live up to what He wants of us. To put His will before mine and to yearn to do so, un-begrudgingly, and to neither be difficult or bitter about it.

I believe now that the next lesson God is trying to teach me in this season of singleness is how to love. And I welcome this lesson humbly, especially since because of late I’ve been grousing and short-tempered with people asking things of me. Especially when the concept of love is framed in this way – to set aside our own needs to attend to that of someone else’s, and to do so joyfully because I love them and want them to be happy.

2) “and” – this word seems to imply a cause-effect relationship, which as I said previously, I have trouble accepting and believing. I mean obviously God will not grant desires that are evil or immoral, but what about those that are not evil in themselves – like the desire for a  deep and abiding relationship with someone? Although now the words of Fr Jude come to mind about how certain desires are not necessarily bad in themselves. It is only when these desires take on an inordinate weightage in our hearts, when they become greater than our desire for God, that they become problematic. Which leads me to my next point.

3) The “desires of your heart” will in turn be tempered and shaped (and even changed) by your actions of taking delight in God. The horrible cynical part of me immediately thought “well that’s a quid pro quo…” but then I thought about the times I set aside my will to continue serving something or someone else just to please them. And how dignifying their happiness was for me to receive, and how that in turn softened and shaped my heart and character. It isn’t a quid pro quo because I’ve benefited in more ways than just receiving a reward or favour – I’ve grown because of the deed I performed, not because of the reward.

So I leave you here again, this time a little bit chastened at my previous bitterness, and a little bit more hopeful and light-hearted!

“The joy of the Lord is my strength” -Nehemiah 8:10

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