Monday, December 12, 2011

Baa, Baa, Baa. I'm a Little Sheep.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.

'Sheep Grazing' photo (c) 2008, Martin Pettitt - license:
Have you ever caught yourself subconsciously mapping out mileposts of delight in your future? 

I do. 

Let me explain. Christmas is coming. Then my birthday is next month. Then three weeks later is a 3-day weekend. Then four months later we go on vacation. Then I have a 3-paycheck month in August. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It seems that without having something—even silly things—to look forward to, I seem to have less strength to persevere in the here-and-now. 

I pop empty promises like breath mints, expecting them to be filling.

The irony of “looking out” at life’s little events with deep longing is that it's essentially “looking down.”

Earth-bound delights, no matter how far off, were never meant to provide permanent satisfaction. I know this because when those long-awaited mileposts finally do come, I find that they fall short of quenching my desires the way I thought they would. 

Stomach flus strike on birthdays. Kids bicker in the van on vacations. Leaky roofs rob our discretionary income.

Yet my natural tendency is to desire fickle delights. I am a sheep, fixated on the clump of grass directly in front of me, failing to look past it to the vast horizon beyond the rolling prairie. When the green grass wilts, I bleat in the night. At some level, I lose heart.

In two words, Bennett, look up. That hollow echo in your heart for permanent delight was made for what only God can satisfy. Those clumps of grass in front of you—the birthday, the vacation, the extra paycheck—are mere punctuation points that by themselves cannot tell the whole story. 

Every good and perfect gift comes from above, and should be enjoyed. But they should also point me to the Father of Lights, with whom there is no shadow of turning, who has given it all.

Psalm 37:4 is the opposite of how I tend to think about things. Of first importance, I need to cultivate a superior delight in the Lord. How? By ruminating on the preciousness of the Gospel. By meditating on God’s attributes—His love, his immutability, His mercy, His grace. 

I find that over time, the things of earth gradually grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. My heart is slowly and stubbornly starting to desire most highly what the Most High wants, and less of what I used to so badly want. 

That’s a kind of delight that doesn't disappoint.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's a humerous analogy of our temporal desires, but quite accurate. I carried this planning strategy, from childhood into my early mothering years and led to deep depression. I don't know about you, but when you live like this you become totally focused on yourself and your happiness. Like you, these "mileposts of delights" came and went and left the emptiness I was hoping they would fill. It also caused me to be disconnected from the present and not deal with my responsibilities in the here and now.

    As I draw closer to Christ, He fills those empty places in my heart and for this I rejoice. Now, I realize that today has enough troubles of its own and God has called me to be present and faithful to Him today. He gives me all I need to do the work that He prepared for me today. It's hard enough to remember this truth.

    I praise God for your post, Scott. I am going to pray that Christ will search my heart and see if I have wandered back to my "fickle delights." When He reveals them to me, I will repent and return to my first Love. I wish that for you also. God bless!


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