to experience joy, take pleasure in or find satisfaction in
Some of its synonyms are
I didn’t have any great epiphanies when I first looked up those definitions and synonyms. But when I started substituting them for the word delight in Scripture? Wow! For example, think about this verse you’ve probably all heard,
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Now, substitute in those definitions and synonyms and you get ideas that, at least for me, take some time to wrap my head and my heart around.
- Experience joy in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Take pleasure in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Find your satisfaction in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Relish the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Enjoy the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Savor the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
None of these words have anything to do with “doing” and yet that’s where my mind always goes first when I hear this verse. I think I almost read it as
“Do what delights the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
But that’s not at all the point of this verse. In fact, it’s the exact opposite! This verse is about relationship, about drawing close, about love and adoration and desire.
And so, God began stripping away my preconceived notions and changing paradigms in my mind and my heart. And He did it in three distinct areas.
Area #1 – Delighting in Life
This area is actually the one that led me to this word I think. I have a major birthday milestone in 2018 and I wanted the year leading up to it to be full and rich and memorable. I wanted to find ways to enjoy, savor and relish my life – not just in large, momentous ways that could never be replicated again (although I did some of those!), but in the normal, everyday life that I live.
I made a list of 39 things that I wanted to enjoy and delight in during the year. And now only a handful remain to finish in these last 40 days! Here are a few that are in the books so to speak.
- Make a dessert for no reason – We celebrated a normal summer day with blackberry cobbler a la mode. Scrumptious!
- Get wind chimes – I’ve wanted these for years because they remind me of my Granny. I’ve enjoyed listening to mine for 7 months now and wonder why I didn’t get them sooner.
- Plant a garden – We went all out. Almost too far out! But the return was so worth it. I’m convinced not a single raspberry or blueberry actually made it in the house.
- Get a tan – It didn’t take a lot of time. It wasn’t a deep one … I am blond and light skinned after all! But there were lines and extra freckles and I loved it.
- Go camping – I could do this for weeks at a time. But since that was impossible, a night out in our backyard did the trick. Campfire. Friends. Laughter. Smores. Indoor toilet. Perfect!
- Go stargazing – My 3-year-old is totally into space which includes stars and constellations. We downloaded an app, pointed it at the sky and found all his favorite constellations. What fun!
- Fly a kite – When my husband does something, it’s never done halfway. Our kites were so big we had to ride on a 4-wheeler to pick up enough wind speed to get them in the air. Ha!
- Watch UNC basketball – What a year to enjoy this one – ACC Champions! This one didn’t delight my husband as much, but he was a trooper and endured while I delighted!
Some of these things I would have done anyway. But the difference is that I was intentionally delighting and enjoying them, not just letting them come and go. They weren’t just things to plan and accomplish but things to enter into and savor.
It’s changed the way I see other parts of my life too. Those early mornings when I’m actually able to sit in a quiet house! Cups of hot tea held in my hands. A good book and a warm blanket. Anything can be delighted in. All it takes in an intentional perspective.
Area #2 – Delighting in Family
Early on in the year I ran across this verse and have been turning it over in my mind and heart ever since.
Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. (Ecclesiastes 9:9 MSG)
Relish, delight, enjoy, take pleasure in, savor life with my spouse EACH AND EVERY DAY. Who can actually do that?! Here again, my tendency is to plan ways to DO this and feel the weight of manufacturing something every. single. day. But that is, again, missing the point.
It wasn’t hard to delight in my hubby and time spent with him when we were dating and engaged. Yet somehow familiarity can cloud our vision and squelch delight. Relishing life with my spouse means inviting him into the small moments of life so that we can delight in them together. It means having eyes that see him for who he actually is and finding satisfaction and contentment in that.
This is still a work in progress in my heart and life. For so many reasons I feel ill-equipped to do this and so my prayer is that God would teach me what it is to delight and that He would then work that into this relationship too.
I find it far easier to enter the world of my son and find delight in him. And why wouldn’t I? His innocence, curiosity, and wonder mean that he naturally delights in his world and readily invites me to enjoy it with him. “Can we enjoy these flowers?” he asks as we’re picking daisies in the field. Why of course! What a great idea!
The one thing that it does require, of course, is my attention. When I’m distracted, I miss his invitations to enjoy life with him. If I’m not careful, my desire for order can squelch his ability to thoroughly enjoy and enter into his world of play.
My delight in him is important because it’s a picture to him of God’s delight in him. My son craves what he was created to have – the delight and favor of God the Father.
Area #3 – Delighting in God
In this area, especially, God has reshaped my paradigms. My life has been greatly shaped by a desire to please God – trying to understand what God wanted from me and then obeying as best I could. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But there’s everything wrong if that’s the foundation and primary focus of the relationship.
What’s the greatest commandment? To love God. Why do we love Him? Because He first loved us. Why do we obey Him? Because He loves us. Love is supposed to be the foundation of my relationship with God.
Our modern dictionaries no longer include it, but do you know what the Old English definition of love included?
“to delight in”
How appropriate. How rich. How significant.
You could say then that the greatest commandment is to delight in God. To savor and enjoy Him. To find satisfaction and pleasure in Him. Not in the things He does. Not in His abilities. But in His person.
Not long after I chose this word delight and began thinking about what it means to delight in God I read this in an article.
Your task in Bible reading is not to make profound insights or understand every verse, but to enjoy more of God. ~John Piper
My heart froze. And then it leaped! I had no idea how to actually do this, but I had a profound realization that this statement was true and was part of what God wanted to do in my heart during this year. I haven’t arrived. I don’t do this perfectly, or even well some days, but I see signs that God is changing and shaping my heart. And it’s causing me to love Him more.
What do you think? Do you want to give One Word for One Year a try in 2018?
Start asking God now for the word He has for you. Remember, He knows your heart and your needs better than you do. It might be a word that makes perfect sense to you when you hear Him whisper it. Or it might puzzle you. Either way, wait for His confirmation and trust Him as you enter into whatever He has for you.