Delight: just say the word. Roll it smoothly around your tongue like a succulent chunk of cheesecake. Oxford Dictionary defines delight as ‘a cause or source of great pleasure’. Wow. I had to think about that one for a bit, as nothing fitting the description leapt immediately to mind. Possibly, I’m harder to please than the average bear. Being ‘happy’ in life is a little tougher than it sounds. It’s a highly subjective judgment, constantly in flux. Am I happier today than a year ago? Are things ‘going better’? Do I feel I’m more on target with my goals than I was before, or have I lost ground? I discussed in my previous blog how Delight and Desire play a massive role in orienting our own internal thermostats, so the considerations are highly valid.
Start asking yourself the hard questions and you’ll quickly become mired down. Deep in the book of Proverbs, there are two pithy little pieces of wisdom that cast a tremendous light on the whole murky, perilous territory of Delight and Desire. If you have the courage (or the desperation) to go there, you’ll find some help in the gloom. Proverbs 13:19 says:
Desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.
Twin that with this one: Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
What a mouthful. Let’s deconstruct a bit. Getting our heart’s desire is ambrosial; highly exhilarating stuff. We delight in it, but honestly, a lot of what we want is selfish, unreasonable, fickle, fleeing and downright foolish. Some of it can actively destroy both ourselves and those around us. Yearning for something passionately can make you feel sick inside, but seeing it finally granted is a two-edged sword. You can go from obsessed to indifferent in a surprisingly short amount of time. This phenomenon leaves us feeling frustrated - with life, ourselves, and God. What will actually ‘push the magic button’? Maybe, we’re not interpreting our inner cravings accurately. We require someone who knows our heart better than we do. Of course, we’re going to need divine intervention.
In exactly the same way our minds, conscience, memory, or emotions need to be renewed by the Word of God, so do our Delight and Desire. These internal appetites are operational within the framework of a broken world, so they can be distorted, diseased or defiled. We become our own worst enemies. In order to refine and gratify Desire, touching Delight, the Lord strangely enough, defers it. It seems counter-intuitive, and it is. We want to push forward, and He holds back. Apparently, there are other priorities. He has massive purpose, if you have the courage and conviction to stay in the equation. Remember, it’s the Lord’s job to satisfy desire (Ps. 145:15-19), so once you understand that, the next logical step would be to turn it all over to Him. It’s an act of will, to align the deepest core of being and identity to Him, and also to His timing. We pray this prayer ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…’ did you realize you just surrendered your Desire? With your words, you renounced your Delight for His? Hello. This is serious. In the final analysis, He doesn’t just want us to gnaw on the occasional tasty fruit of life…He wants us to possess the whole tree! That requires regeneration: it requires wholeness.
The last few years have been an intense, excruciating study in deferred desire. I’ve walked in faith my whole life, so it’s not unusual for me to feel disoriented, but never have I seen a season where there were so few way-markers. I don’t remember a time in recent history I’ve made a large decision based solely on what I wanted. I left ‘that feels good’ behind about ten thousand miles back. The Lord directed me into Church fellowships I felt no attraction towards, speaking engagements that stirred no deep fire in me, even friendships unfueled by natural chemistry. All these were totally ordained by His leading. I’ve been flying blind, unaided by my own longing, intellectual partialities or instinctive impulses. I’ve learned to do nothing but what is absolutely testified and confirmed by the Lord. Letting go my death-grip on personal ideas of pleasure and preference is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, bar none. This is what maturity in discipleship looks like, and it’s not a party. Nothing indicates I am anywhere nearer the landscape of my desire than I was twenty years ago. But inexplicably, I know I am. I think it’s like the scene in ‘Lord of the Rings’ where the shortest path in the journey is through the mountain. There will be darkness, danger, death-defying exploits and finally, dragons, but I’ll tumble out on the other side into the daylight of destiny.
The Holy Spirit alone can lead you on this singular path that sets you free from yourself. That’s why we’ll need to go back into the deeps, and deal with (the wonder and monster) of Desire. There’s nothing like a masterful, guided expedition, winding through the labyrinth of your own genetic identity and back-history to help you grasp the victory. As always, there are some incredible promises in the end-game of this journey.
‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the Desires of your heart’ (Ps 37:4).
Irrevocably, these two are bound to one another. It couldn’t be stated more succinctly. He’s giving us the accelerated inside track on the journey of a life-time. What radical things could happen to us if we really believed Him? Release our limited notions about Delight and Desire, and He might just hand it all back on a silver platter, beyond our wildest dreams.