Maybe you've heard the story of the little boy who came home with his family after service and asked his mom: "Who's Andy?"
Mom: "Andy who?"
Little boy: "The Andy we sang about."
Mom: "When did we sing about Andy?"
Little boy: "Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me."
For those of you who may not understand the punchline, the chorus of the hymn 'In the Garden' begins with "And he walks with me, and he talks with me."
Have you ever believed something to be true only to discover later that you were mistaken all along? This has happened to me many times. Sometimes even after years of believing misinformation; and many times with the Scriptures. Take the Christmas story for example. I grew up believing that there were three magi...and that they were at the manger with the shepherds...and the manger was in a stable. Imagine my shock when I began to pay closer attention to the Biblical account and realized our traditions were not always based on the true story.
This has also happened to me with Bible verses that teach God's principles for living. The focus of this blog is Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." At first glance this could seem like a verse that is offering the secret to get whatever you want. Then you look more closely at the first part of the verse and you realize there is a catch. Ok, if I want to get what I want, then it somehow involves my connection with God. This isn't far from what I heard taught much of my life about this verse. My part is to do my best to take great pleasure in the LORD and he will reward me with what I want.
That perspective seemed reasonable on one hand but on the other hand still sounded extremely self-serving and was not adding up. Eventually I sat down and did some of my own study of this verse and this is what I found. Looking at the original Hebrew/Aramaic words I learned that 'taking delight in the LORD' is equivalent to staying pliable, or moldable before the God. The word 'give' in this case carries the meaning of 'put'...a major perspective shift! 'Desires' pretty much means what we think of...longing or hoping. 'Heart' is the word we use to describe the core, or essence, of who we are.
In other words, "Stay pliable before the LORD and he will put in you the longings he desires for you to have." This is a complete reversal from what I believed to be true for years and it makes complete sense to me. God's Word never teaches us how to serve ourselves, but to serve him and others.
As I look back over my life I see this different take on Psalm 37:4 to be particularly true when it comes to God leading us in making major life decisions that involve direction. Every major transition in my life was preceded and accompanied by a growing desire that helped me follow the LORD's leading even when it terrified me. Whether it was going to North Central University to discover how the LORD desired me to serve him with my life, or transitioning to each of the three congregations we served across thirty years of staff ministry, or leaving staff ministry to launch 'Worship is Life', the pattern was the same. God would blow on certain desires and remove other desires to help lead and guide us.
This is confirmed in Scripture when we look at Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Not only are these verses speaking the same truth but it is in the direct context of guidance. It is no surprise that King Solomon who wrote Proverbs 3 is the son of King David who wrote Psalm 37.
What a beautiful picture of our relationship with God. When we respond to the invitation to restored relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Provider, he is faithful to guide us by first putting and then fanning desires within us for the sake of his glory and kingdom. Worship is Life!