Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
It’s one of those Bible verses I’ve known since childhood.
Such a beautiful, powerful promise from God. But I can’t say I fully grasped it till recent adulthood—when I moved to Tennessee and met my husband John.
Sure, I’d heard it explained a bunch of times in church and read about it in devotionals, and I understood the verse in theory. The more we focus on God, the more our desires will align with His desires for our lives. AND, God created every person with specific passions that He loves to see us enjoy when we seek Him. So, whether they were our desires to begin with or our desires after a change of heart toward God, the promise is fulfilled.
When we delight in Him. That’s the key.
Again. In theory, I got the meaning of the verse. In practice? I don’t know about you, but my human nature always wants to seek the desires first, and then… “Oh yeah, God. Please?” Where’s the delight in that?
Delighting in my own desires
After divorcing my first husband back in 2014, I certainly put my desires before delighting in God. I moved to Florida because I wanted to escape. And, for over two years, I dated a guy who was—for much of our relationship—a professed atheist. I liked him, so I dated him and even lived with him. Deep down, I knew he wasn’t the true desire of my heart, but it was a desire nonetheless and I put that relationship ahead of God.
For about eight months of those two years, I also stopped going to church. Not because I stopped believing, but really… truthfully… because I knew I wasn’t listening to God about anything in my life, so I thought, “What’s the point?”
Oh, and during this time, I also relapsed after my first attempt at bulimia recovery, but that’s a whole other blog post here.
Thankfully, God never left me in my pursuit of everything but Him. Thankfully, He patiently taught me how to delight in Him. Key word: patiently.
So what does it mean to delight in God?
For real. How the heck do you do it?
As I often do, let’s go to the dictionary. To delight is to be pleased greatly. Or to feel thrilled or captivated by something or someone. In this case, that someone is God.
Once I came to my senses, started going to church again, and eventually broke up with the boyfriend, I knew I had to get my focus back on God. It wasn’t overnight, and even today, my focus sometimes strays. But it got better. It IS better. Progress over perfection, folks!
It’s tough to put that progress into a how-to, and likely your delight in God will look somewhat different than mine. Here’s what I did, though, and I guess it’s a good place for anyone to start:
- Establish a consistent, daily quiet time with God (devotional, Bible reading, reflection, prayer, etc.). The First15 app helped me immensely with this, you can sign up for daily emails or listen via podcast. And it’s free! I still use it daily, even when I travel.
- Pray about EVERYTHING. Philippians 4:6-7 is a great reminder of this. Also 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The more you talk with God, the more you’ll see Him work, and that leads to delight.
- Trust God, even when you don’t want to. Even when it’s scary. Even when you just want to do it your way. Real talk: we just need to get out of God’s way so He can actually do what’s best for us.
- And lastly, trust the process. Exercise your faith. It may not seem like the best at first, but God sees the future. The big picture. Faith and trust are crucial to delighting in the Lord.
Delighting in God over guys
Naturally, one of my desires after coming back to God was finding a godly husband. I even made a list of criteria!
Looking at this list now, I have some thoughts:
First, even though I had good intentions—it’s honestly silly to think God would work off a list. My list. My desires, however godly it may seem. I say this now because God exceeded even my greatest husband dreams when he brought me John. When I look at this list, and consider John’s qualities, I’m thankful—SO thankful—God didn’t stick to my list.
Second, I gotta laugh at that “Bonus” section at the end—especially the “plays guitar or piano.” John does neither, but that’s not the only reason I think it’s funny. I’m pretty sure I had this idealistic Christian guy in my head who could just pick up a guitar or sit down at a piano at any given time and start playing a tune. Maybe something on the radio, or maybe something he wrote himself. Nothing wrong with that being a bonus, but I wonder why I stopped there. I wonder why I didn’t add “Rides a motorcycle.”
Riding a motorcycle was certainly on my bucket list. And being married to a guy that adventurous was certainly the dream. But maybe I left it off because I never really knew many people who rode or owned bikes. Or maybe it seemed too much to ask. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t on the list, but it was in my heart. And God knew.
And God cares.
And, we’ll circle back to that. I promise.
For now, back to me looking for a husband-material guy. God had an opinion on this, and He didn’t keep it to Himself.
Does God really speak?
Sure does. Talking to God one afternoon, I asked Him point blank if I should pursue a guy I thought had that potential. And you know what God said back? “Pursue me.” It was immediate. Almost audible. Undeniable. Message received.
No more looking for a relationship, but instead letting God bring one to me if He so chose. Or, accepting the idea that maybe I’d never remarry. And that’s when I really began to understand the whole concept of delighting in God. Pursuing Him over my own desires became a delight. A thrill. I became captivated by how much He loved me. LOVES me.
In my years of singleness to follow, I learned that God’s love is enough. There were a few times I thought mayyybe God brought THE guy into my life—but nope. And God was enough. And even now in my marriage to a man who makes me feel so deeply loved and cherished every single day… even now, I know God’s love is enough.
But back to the singleness stage.
Once I found myself delighting in the Lord, guess what? He spoke some more.
This time, He told me to move to Tennessee.
I loved living in Florida and had zero plans to leave, but I love God more. As strange as it sounds, when He asked me to move to Tennessee to be closer to my sister, Danae, it just felt right. As soon as I said yes to moving, I felt content and genuinely excited, even with all the unknowns and the sadness of leaving my life in Sarasota.
Desires of my heart
My decision to move to Tennessee was a lightbulb moment. I saw, undeniably, how my desires aligned with God’s because I delighted in Him. WOW.
Living in Tennessee, I kept pursuing God. Sure, I talked to guys in Knoxville here and there, but I knew it was up to God to make something happen.
And then God brought me John in quite an unexpected way. Read all about it here. I’ll summarize by saying it was very clear less than a month into our relationship that God truly did bring us together for the purpose of marriage. Sometimes God says wait. And this time, God said YES.
On one of our first dates, John mentioned he rode motorcycles, though he didn’t own one at the time. I have to say, while I already reeeeaaaalllly liked him, it made me like him just a smidge more. Or maybe more than a smidge. Just a few months before meeting John, I’d actually crossed “ride a motorcycle” off my bucket list, thanks to a friend of mine. But, the idea of riding a motorcycle with John—the man I believed I’d marry—suddenly became a strong desire.
Well, whaddya know. About two months after we got married, John found a crazy good deal on an Indian FTR1200 motorcycle—and that’s how we became a motorcycle couple. During much of our first ride together, guess what I did? I talked with God. I certainly couldn’t talk to John while we were in motion, and in my happiness, all I wanted to do was thank God anyway—so I did. I thanked Him. Praised Him. Delighted in Him for knowing me and loving me enough to give me this desire of my heart. A desire that wasn’t on my husband list, but one God knew I wanted anyway because He knows and cares and loves me that much.
I don’t mean to downplay the other, bigger, more substantial desires of my heart. There’s certainly more to this story and no doubt y’all have bigger, more substantial desires, too. My intent in sharing about the motorcycle is to show that God acknowledges ALL of our desires—even the ones that may seem silly or insignificant in light of other needs. He created us each with unique passions and desires that He lovingly wants to see fulfilled in our lives! Motorcycle rides included.
So it’s kind of a thing now. When John and I take a ride, I make time to talk with God. No doubt, I pray for safety; but, I also always thank Him for allowing me to enjoy the experience with my adventurous husband.
Delighting in the Lord on a motorcycle. I doubt that’s what King David had in mind when he wrote Psalm 37…
When has God given you a desire of your heart? I’d love to hear y’all’s stories!