Delight in God
By Lenya Heitzig
What brings you delight? In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’ character and the Von Trapp children sang a happy tune about a few of their favorite things. Remember? They sang about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string…
What are your favorite things? You know, the ones that put a smile on your face or a song in your heart? Depending on who you are and what season of life you’re in, the source of your delight may vary. “Delight” simply describes something that provokes in you a pleasurable emotion, a sense of deep enjoyment or a high degree of satisfaction.
Daily delights are all around us, if we will only look. We often forget that God will use what we take delight in to accomplish His will. I love to share this story about my husband, Skip, to illustrate this point.
Late one night, before Skip had become a pastor, he heard the pounding surf echoing in his ears and decided to follow Pacific Coast Highway to the Huntington Beach pier. Being a typical Southern Californian beach boy, the salt and sand were a few of his daily delights. As he drove, a sign posted on an apartment window, “Available Now,” caught his attention. For some time, Skip had believed that God was calling him to become a pastor. However, he was uncertain of where and how he should minister. Yet at that instant, he remembered something his pastor had said the previous evening: “God is more likely to use people who are available now than those who are waiting for a thunderous voice from heaven to direct them sometime in the future.”
While pondering this, Skip parked his car and headed out onto the empty beach to pray. His destination was one of the lifeguard stations. He scanned the horizon as he climbed the ladder – not another soul in sight. Perched atop the wooden structure with the ocean breeze blowing through his hair, Skip prayed out loud, “Here I am. Send me where you’d like. Use me as you see fit. I’m available now!” Then he waited to hear God’s still, small voice.
Instead, his brief prayer was interrupted by a peculiar sound coming from the base of the guardhouse: crunch, crunch, crunch. Skip peered over the edge of his lofty perch, surprised to discover a scruffy-looking boy eating a bag of Cheetos. Skip quickly thought, Perhaps God wants to use me right here and now.
“Hey, dude,” Skip called out, completely startling the guy munching beneath him. After a few introductory comments, Skip steered their conversation to the One who’d created the roaring ocean. The two beach boys began discussing life and death, sin and salvation. By the end of their conversation, Skip led his fellow surfer in a prayer of salvation.
In the shadow of a moonlit night, just by Skip’s being “available now,” God had been able to use him. Skip stumbled quite naturally upon his own holy moment. Humanity and divinity had intersected at a unique point and time, and two lives were changed forever.
Skip became more convinced that God wanted him to pursue full-time ministry: “That situation taught me that God doesn’t merely use those with ability, but availability.” Skip encountered God in the midst of one of his daily delights.
Many people assume that an encounter with God can only be experienced through pain and suffering. But there’s good news: While trials do teach Christians a great deal, they are not the only catalysts God uses to accomplish His will in our lives. Are you looking for God? If so, He can be found in a valley or on a mountaintop – and in every place in between.
Psalm 37:4 reveals that the Lord speaks as powerfully through pleasure as He does through pain. So, don’t make the mistake of only listening for God’s voice when disaster hits, or finally reaching out for His hand when there’s no place else to turn. Instead, begin to recognize God’s still, small voice in the midst of your daily duties and learn to sense His holy presence in places you routinely visit. Like Jacob, you may be journeying along a familiar road, not realizing that “the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16). Or like Elijah, you might be listening for God’s voice in a violent windstorm, a tumultuous earthquake or a ferocious fire only to discover it in “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12).
One of the most important truths of the Christian faith is that we must not only be open to God’s surprises, but also ready and eager to embrace them.
True, Lasting Delight
When King David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord,” the object of David’s delight wasn’t a thing; it was the Lord. Learning to delight in the Holy One is the completion of the first step toward experiencing holy moments.
So how do we delight in God? You must discover what pleases Him. What does He like or dislike? The Bible uses the word “delight” more than 60 times in reference to the Lord. Most of the instances are associated with obeying God’s laws, following His commands, rejoicing in His testimonies, or keeping His statutes. Therefore, to express your delight in the Lord, you must obey His Word. As you do, He will certainly lead you to greater holy moments than you’ve ever had before.
Another thing that delights God is prayer. Let me tell you the amazing story of some men who delighted in God through prayer and the incredible way God answered their request.
Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary was established in 1924, its founders were nearly forced to file for bankruptcy. A group of creditors threatened to foreclose at noon on a specific date. Dr. Chafer, the president of the seminary, decided to turn to God in prayer. On the fateful morning the debt was due, he invited several men to his office to intercede with God. Dr. Harry Ironside, who later became a well-known Bible commentator and preacher, was also attending that prayer meeting. Harry often quoted the Bible when praying. As was his custom, he petitioned the Lord, “We know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money.”
Outside of the president’s office, a tall Texan dressed in cowboy boots and a pearl-button shirt, stepped into the business office and said, “I just sold two carloads of cattle in Forth Worth. I feel compelled to give the money to the seminary. I don’t know if you need it or not, but here’s the check!”
The secretary stepped out from behind her desk, took the check from the gentleman and thanked him graciously. Aware of the seriousness of the situation, she decided to interrupt the prayer meeting. Knocking nervously on the door, she entered at Dr. Chafer’s invitation. She handed him the check without saying a word. Looking at the check, Dr. Chafer was astounded to discover that it was written for the exact amount of the debt! Then he recognized that the endorsement belonged to a cattleman from Fort Worth. Turning to Dr. Ironside, he said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”
Solomon said, “The prayer of the upright is His delight” (Prov. 15:8). Dr. Chafer and Dr. Ironside understood something every Christian must learn: Prayer and reading the Bible are two of God’s favorite things. When they incorporated these godly delights into their lives, God orchestrated an encounter of the divine kind that was unforgettable – a true holy moment.
Answered prayers are holy moments we often fail to recognize. Has God answered any of your prayers? Then you’ve already experienced a holy moment of your own.
As you make prayer a part of your ordinary routine, don’t forget to be on the lookout for God’s extraordinary response. The Lord said, through the prophet Isaiah, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24). Answered prayer provides an endearing, reassuring connection between you and your loving Creator. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Sometimes the Lord encourages you with a very special answer to prayer. It’s His way of saying, “I like what you’re doing and what I’m seeing in your life.’”
It’s easy to find evidence of God in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. It’s not so easy to detect Him during the ordinary events in our lives. But that’s exactly where you and I live. Most of us will never walk on water, heal the sick, or cast out demons. But we may provide a meal for the needy, offer encouragement to the downhearted, or receive an answer to one of our prayers.
We live amidst the nuance of the normal with God’s voice echoing somewhere off in the distance, not thundering from the mountain peaks. That is precisely the reason we need to be sensitive to His quiet voice and gentle leading, to the holy moments we often overlook as we rush madly through our daily routines. God longs to intersect our paths with His heavenly interruptions.