Learning to Delight in the Gift

 

 

 

delight in the gift
 
A while back I met a friend for lunch that I hadn’t seen in months. She met me with a hug and a beautiful bunch of pale pink tulips.

My first thought was: They are so lovely!
 

My second thought was: I didn’t get her anything!
 

Somehow how I couldn’t fully delight in the gift because now I felt the balance of friendship was upset.
 

As I contemplated this I realized that my delight in God’s gift of grace is also somewhat diminished by the fact that I didn’t give Him something of value in return. I feel I have to do something for God 

In one way this is perfectly sane because it is a good thing to want to give back to God.

But in another way this is ridiculous because what could I give God that could equal the incomparable gift of His Son?

The real problem lies in the fact that sometimes my doing gets in the way of enjoying God. The nagging feeling that I should be busy in His service sometimes prevents me from simply delighting in Him.

Psalm 37:4 says:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

When we learn to delight in the Lord, He becomes the desire of our hearts. We rest, contented with who He is and what He has given. The pressure to do is diminished. The weight of the my inadequacy is lifted.

Just for today, let’s put aside our doing and simply sit at Jesus’ feet enjoying His presence, reveling in His grace, marveling in His love.

Delight in the gift.

Next Step: Take five minutes today to sit quietly with God. Delight in His love, care, and protection. Thank Him for His many gifts to you.
revel in His grace

Give God Your List: Learning to Trust God with Your Desires

GiveGodYourList

There was a time when I wanted a new house more than anything. It wasn’t that the house we lived in was a hovel. In fact it was a two-story, four-bedroom, two-full-bath residence with a big backyard. The trouble was—it was old. And just a mile away, developers were constructing a brand-new subdivision of luxury homes. Suddenly, all the little flaws in my house were magnified. The windows that were painted shut were infuriating. The floor plan was aggravating. The well water that periodically turned my laundry orange was maddening.

I began to obsess about getting a new house. I lost sleep as I fantasized about a new place to live. I worried about saving money for a down payment. I failed to find anything good about my current home and in the process misplaced any tranquility I might have possessed. My new-house-obsession was causing me a lot of anxiety.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

A new house was definitely one of the desires of my heart. Every time I tried to open the windows I wished for a new house. Whenever I tried to clean the rust stains off the tub I hoped for a new home. I kept praying that God would answer that desire.

But although I knew verse 4 of Psalm 37 by memory, I had forgotten about verse 3:

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Trust in the Lord

God promises to give me the desires of my heart, but first He asks me to trust Him.

Lately I’ve been finding that when I’m having trouble trusting God, the best thing I can do is be honest with Him. When I’m distracted by things that I want, I can stuff those desires down because they’re not spiritual. I can avoid praying about them because they don’t seem like something God would care about.

But of course, God knows the desires of my heart anyway. So the best thing I can do is bring my whole wish list to Him. Even if the list has things that seem trivial or (gasp!) worldly, when I talk to God about them, He can help me sort them out.

This is more than just asking God to give me everything on the list.

It’s giving Him the list.

It’s trusting that in His love, He will know which of those things are good. It’s having faith that He will answer my prayers when the time is right.

You know, it took me a long time to learn to be content with that old house. But after I decided to trust God to give me what I needed, I learned to see its good points. And a couple of years after that, God blessed our family with a brand new house.

When I tell my gracious heavenly Father that I’m ready to trust Him, that’s when my heart changes. When I give God my desires, that’s when they lose their grip on my soul.

Question: What do you do when you are struggling with trust?

 

Do You Need a Hug?

psalm 73-3A little girl, not even two, was sitting with her mother in church. It was a new church for them, they had only attended there a couple of times.

The little girl sat patiently through the hymns. She quietly listened to the Bible readings.

But when the congregation stood for the reading of the Gospel and the mother lifted in her arms while they listened, the girl suddenly spotted the carving of Jesus at the front of the church. The resurrected Christ was on the cross holding out His arms to all in blessing.

The little girl couldn’t be quiet any longer. “Hug!” she shouted. “Jesus–hug!”

That little girl was my daughter Anna. And this story happened when we first moved to Illinois.

We all love to tell cute stories about our kids and grandkids, but I think this one has a lesson for us.

Just like that carving of Jesus at the front of our church, Jesus is always holding out His arms to us, ready to embrace us.

He wants to hold us close when we’re afraid to take a scary step of faith. He wants to embrace us when we’re wounded by hurtful words. He wants to enfold us in His arms when circumstances have crumbled our hope.

Psalm 73:3

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.

Today, take time to simply sit in God’s presence. Picture Him holding your hand. Imagine His caring arms holding you.

Question: After you have taken a minute to sit in God’s presence, tell how that changed your perspective today.

 

Prefer the Given

“Prefer the given.”
I read this phrase in the book Grumble Hallelujah a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me. 
I loved the sound of it. But I didn’t love the reality of it. If life gives me the equivalent of the small brown mug in the picture above, I complain that I don’t have the large, beautiful, white one.
There are some things that I would like to change in my life if I could. I would prefer to be able to eat chocolate every day without gaining weight. I would prefer that my book be on the New York Times bestseller list. I would prefer that my grandchildren would live across town instead of half-way around the world.
But I believe God was speaking to me through this phrase. After all, it sounds a lot like Paul’s words in Philippians:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.(Philippians 4:11)

Discontent is wanting something different. And wanting something different is pushing back what God has placed in my life and saying, “No thank you.”

But to be content is to prefer the given. To prefer the given is to accept what is in my life right now with open hands.

When I’m discontent I’m always looking for a way out. I’m searching for something better.

But what if I preferred what God has given? Would my searching mechanism then be busy looking for hidden blessings in the situation? Would I scrutinize the problem for a lesson to be learned? Would I eagerly look for an opportunity to meet God in a new way? 

Prefer the given.
 

Going to the Party

Are you celebrating?
The thing I love most about the story of the prodigal son is the picture of the father running to meet his son.
And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

But one thing I never noticed until recently was that the father also had to go to meet the older son.

The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him. (Luke 15:28)

The father had to leave the party for one son to go out to meet the other son. 

This says to me: None of us can meet God on our own. God comes to us.

But the brothers responded to the father differently. One repented, received his father’s love, and celebrated the gift of forgiveness. 

The other brother used comparison to fuel his bitterness and did not accept the father’s love. He stood outside the doors of the celebration.

Where am I? Am I gladly receiving my Father’s gift of love and celebrating His grace?

Or am I stuck in the rut of comparison to others? Refusing to enter the celebration of what God has for me?

God is begging us to attend the party and celebrate His gift of grace.








 

 

 

Delight in the Gift

Delight in the gift.
A couple of weeks ago I met a friend for lunch that I had not seen in a long time. She met me with a hug and this beautiful bunch of pale pink tulips. 
My first thought was, They are so lovely!
My second thought was, I didn’t get her anything!
Somehow how I couldn’t fully delight in the gift because now I felt the balance of friendship was upset.
As I contemplated this I realized that my delight in God’s gift of grace is also somewhat diminished by the fact that I didn’t give Him something of value in return. I feel I have to do something for God 

In one way this is perfectly sane because it is a good thing to want to give back to God.
But in another way this is ridiculous because what could I give God that could equal the incomparable gift of His Son?


The real problem lies in the fact that sometimes my doing gets in the way of enjoying God. The nagging feeling that I should be busy in His service sometimes prevents me from simply delighting in Him.

Just for today, let’s put aside our doing and simply sit at Jesus’ feet enjoying His presence, reveling in His grace, marveling in His love.

Delight in the gift.

Empty Wishes

Empty
“Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). 
Empty wishes. Deceitful desires. A lot of times my desires are like late-night television commercials for products that promise satisfaction but don’t deliver. What I thought was fulfilling actually left me empty. What I thought I desperately needed really didn’t satisfy. I was deluded and deceived.

Even if I could get everything I wanted, I probably would not be content for long. The accolades from one success would eventually fade and I would have to search for a new accomplishment. A new house would need paint. I would be left wanting more. And more. And more.

At times my prayers have sounded like a fast food order. “Lord, I want this and this and that. And could you hurry it up.” I go through my prayer list and get on with the day. But sometimes I linger in God’s presence long enough to hear Him say, “Look Sharla, I can give you an extravagant house, national success, and Christian Louboutin red-soled shoes. I love you and I want you to be happy. But I know those things will not really do the job. I made your soul and I know deep down inside you will never be truly satisfied with any of those things. I want to give you—Me.”

OK—so now I’m really embarrassed. How could I be wishing for cheap imitations when the Creator of the universe is offering Himself?

God wants me to trust that what He has in His pocket is more wonderful than anything I could imagine for myself. He wants to peel away all those artificial desires to get to the one that will really satisfy. My Father knows this world is full of deceit and deception, but He wants to give me spiritual eyesight. He can help me spot the cheap imitations.
Instead of chasing after products that leave me empty, I am learning to be satisfied with–God.

Delight in the Life You’ve Been Given

Traffic Lights 

God has been teaching me lately that delighting in Him also means delighting in my life. I have to admit that being happy about my life is easier on sunny days. It’s easier to like my life when my computer is working the way it should, when the lines in the grocery store are short, and when the traffic lights are always green. In other words, it’s not difficult to delight in my life when everything is going according to my plan.

But recently I was reading the book, Grumble Hallelujah, and came across this line:

Prefer the life you’ve been given you to one you weren’t meant to live. (p. 124)

The life I’ve been given is not always the way I would prefer. I would prefer that my daughter and her family lived closer and not in China. I would prefer that our church was large and growing. But if I’m truly delighting in God, I am also trusting that He has given me the very best life for me.

If I delighting in God, I am confident in His love and trusting in His goodness. I have faith that because of His love for me, He is working out every little twist in turn in the plot of my life to have a happy ending. I am expecting Him to do something wonderful.

Delight in God! Delight in the life you’ve been given!

photo credit

Is God Tidy?

my messy closet by Anna Sattler 

Last November I wrote a post about praising God through the alphabet. (If you want, you can read it here.) The other day I was using this technique during my quiet time and I got to the letter “T.” And for some reason the only “T” word that popped into my brain was the word tidy. But I immediately dismissed that word because I thought, God is not tidy.

Sometimes God is very Untidy. Sometimes the way He works in my life is Very Messy.

But maybe that is just my point of view. Maybe from God’s perspective His work is orderly and neat.

Perhaps the way that God works in my life is sort of like the way I clean out my closet. To organize my clothes closet I first have to make a big mess. I take everything out and lay it on the bed. Anyone peeking into the room would definitely not describe it as neat and tidy. Next I toss out the clothes I no longer wear or that I have never worn. (You don’t have any clothes in your closet like that, do you?) And finally I return the remaining clothes to the closet sorting them by color so I can easily find what I am looking for.

Sometimes God’s working in my life feels exactly like that process. He throws everything into disarray. He shows me what isn’t working anymore. He points out a few things that need to be tossed out. After what seems like a long time of messiness, things start to come back together again. Life has a new order. It’s not organized by color, but more by God’s priorities.

I don’t think God promises to be tidy, but He does promise to make everything beautiful.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
Ecclesiastes 3:11 

photo credit

Make Over Your “Wanter”

Ice Cream Sundae
Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
Psalm 73:25
Read the verse again. Did you catch that last part? The psalmist Asaph says, “God, there is nothing on this whole earth that I desire besides You.”
I’d say that is delight in God!
I’m not sure that I can repeat that statement and mean it–yet. But that is the direction I’m headed this year. I’m praying that I will come to the point that I truly want God more than anything.
I guess what I’m praying is that God will change my “wanter.”

Because after all, if I wanted the right things, it would be easy to change my behavior.

Think about it:

If I wanted to eat carrot sticks instead of ice cream, I wouldn’t have any problem sticking to a healthy diet.

If I wanted to run three miles instead of sit on the sofa and watch TV, physical fitness would be a snap.

This would work in the spiritual realm as well:

If I truly wanted my life exactly as it is now, I wouldn’t have any trouble with envy.

If I truly wanted to build up my family and friends, you wouldn’t find me complaining about them.


And if I truly wanted God more than anything I would rush to read His Word. I would look for every opportunity to sit in His presence. I would see Him in everyday happenings. I would live a life of gratitude.


If I truly wanted God more than anything, I would be at peace.


Dear Heavenly Father, I look at my life and see I want so many things. I want close friends. I want to make a difference in the world. I want cute shoes. But more than those things I want to proclaim with Asaph, “Earth has nothing I desire besides You.” So Lord, please change my “wanter.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

photo credit