EXPLORATION 11 | Expectations
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.— C.S. Lewis
In the fall of 2015, Oprah was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where the two shared favorite Bible verses. Oprah recited Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
In much of Western Christianity, this passage is somewhat akin to God’s “drive-up window,” where if we love God, he will give us whatever we ask for. “Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” as Janis Joplin so eloquently put it. Entire theologies, churches, and denominations are organized around this principle, including intricate strategies for managing unanswered requests.
[Apply the ‘sniff test’ here: If a Biblical interpretation makes sense in materialistic America and not in Sub-Saharan Africa, then it’s not true.]
The Hebrew word ‘anog, “delight,” means being dependent upon God while deriving absolute pleasure from him. If God is our primary source of pleasure, then, in fact, he is the desire of our hearts. The promise here is not that God will give us the things of this world if we delight in him; the promise is that God will give us himself.
The text itself provides a hint in this direction. The word “give,” nathan, works like a two-way swinging door. Its Hebrew letters are Nun, Taw, Nun. Spelled backward, it is still Nun, Taw, Nun. Ancient Jewish Rabbis comment that the reversible spelling illustrates that as our desire goes out to God, his desire comes right back to us.
What begins as two distinct elements—a log and flame—soon becomes a bed of glowing red embers, where the fire and fuel now exist as one. Similarly, when we find our exquisite pleasure in God, he transforms the very nature of our heart’s desire.
Pray and ask God to reveal anything that keeps you from thoroughly delighting in him.