“…and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23
Growing up, we did the same thing every summer for “vacation”: we drove to Michigan to see family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I have a lot of great memories from those summer visits, and I wouldn’t trade the time we spent with our Michigan family for any fancy vacation…BUT the drive…well, that’s a different story. Fact #1: We drove an old station wagon with NO A/C. Fact #2: We always took our trip at the HOTTEST part of the summer. Fact #3: I usually sat amidst the stuff crammed into the very back of the vehicle.
My Dad was the designated driver on these long, hot journeys, and let’s just say, he had one thing in mind: get there. There was no stopping at the tourist traps or the shopping malls along the way, and we had an allowance of potty breaks to be used wisely. I don’t fault him for this mindset. It’s just his personality, and I think I’ve picked some of that up myself.
For him, it was all about the destination. As long as we got to Grandma’s house by dinnertime, he felt that it was a good trip. The experience didn’t matter nearly as much to him as it did to the rest of us because he was so focused on his goal.
I, like my father, am a goal-setter. When Brian & I got married, I had already decided how our life would turn out: We would have four children (minimum). I was already working on the names. When Brian finished college, he would go to work full-time in a church somewhere for a while and then we’d start a church in Nebraska. I would homeschool, of course. And we’d stay there for the rest of our lives.
These were MY goals, but God had something completely different in mind for us: After almost eight years of marriage, we do not have any children. Brian finished college, but he has yet to work in full-time ministry. In 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer and went through six months of chemotherapy (I didn’t see that one coming!) Please know that I am not complaining about God’s choice for our path. I just want you to know where I am coming from when I talk about how I’m learning (trust me, it’s a work in progress) to delight in the way that God has established for us.
In studying these verses, I’ve seen differing opinions about WHO is doing the delighting here. One might say that it’s God Himself who delights in the way He has chosen for us. And while that is certainly true – He does delight when we follow His way – with the sentence structure the way it is, it seems more likely that the “he” here is referring to the good man – to the one on the journey. If you don’t agree, that’s okay. It is very possible that I’m wrong, but the principle is true, regardless: When we follow God’s way with the right spirit, we will delight in what He is doing in our lives.
In the Strong’s Concordance, “Delighteth” means: to be pleased with; to desire; to favor. What it basically boils down to is contentment. To want what God has given to you to the point of desiring it above anything else you could possibly have. OUCH!
Delighting doesn’t mean waking up every day with a smile on your face. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always feel happy about your situation. To delight in God’s way is to agree with God that it is the best way and to desire to follow the Lord no matter where He takes you.
Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”
So, I’ve learned that God’s purpose is ultimately not to bring me to a baby or to a full-time ministry. God’s goal is to bring me to Himself. Every burden that He gives me is not meant to be carried but brought to Him. All of this time that has been allotted as “waiting time” is not meant to be endured, it’s meant to be spent with Him. Every step that I take on this journey is not to be a hurried rush towards my goal. It’s to be a steady (and often slow) journey with my Friend.
“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way by converse sweet,
I mounted on the thought that so it might be til the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path appeared,
and then the Master said, ‘My child, here thou wilt safest walk with me alone.’
I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied, ‘So be it, Lord.’
He took my feeble hand in His, accepting thus my will
to yield Him all, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.
But oh! so tenderly He led me on and up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
that soon I told Him all my grief and fear, and leaned on His strong arm confidingly.
And then I found my footsteps quickened, and light ineffable,
the rugged way Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.
A little while, and we shall meet again the loved and lost;
but in the rapturous joy of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
and tender recollections rushing back of pilgrim life,
methinks one memory more dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise.
And we who gather in the golden streets,
Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.”