The Delight of Duty

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Some of us make New Year’s resolutions to signal a fresh start or to throw off last year’s excesses and failures. Something I’ve done the past few years is to pick a word to meditate on. My senses are heightened as I notice the word popping up in whatever I’m reading or listening to.

In 2015 it was ‘grace’, which was partly responsible for the birth of this blog. Last year’s word was ‘joy’ and for 2017 it is ‘delight’. Now, I know that joy and delight are very similar. Here’s where I make the distinction: Joy is a picture of what I want my Christian life to look like. That continues to be a life-long journey. Delight, on the other hand, is focused on how I love God. Do I delight in Him? His Word? I want to take pleasure in knowing Him more. Again, this too is a life-long journey and isn’t tied in a pretty pink bow at the end of the year. But it’s a start.

“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”
-Psalm 119:35

I prayed about having something to help me desire God, out of duty AND love! I forget that we are commanded to delight in the One who created us and keeps us alive with every heart beat, every breath we take. Just as I enjoy spending time with my son and husband, I learn to love God deeply when I find my pleasure in Him. John Piper terms this as Christian Hedonism. Jonathan Edwards personally resolved, “to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can”. That obtaining happiness in God starts now for the believer, whose real life didn’t even begin until the moment of salvation.

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I’m hoping to practice my delight in God this side of heaven, learning of His character, and trusting Him even when life is hard or I don’t understand the circumstances. God graciously showed me last year that I was still striving “to be good enough” for Him instead of just enjoying His love, His goodness, His presence within me. I was angry in the moment, when God laid me low, but now I look back and see it was all a work of His kindness. God continues to be faithful even when I am not. That is grace and in looking back over my personal experiences with the Lord, I now can delight in Him!
This doesn’t mean that all of life is fluff, butterflies and unicorns. Life is still full of disappointments, sorrow and pain. Douglas Wilson, pastor and apologist, discusses delight as:

“true joviality […] as an act of defiance […] It’s the recognition that this is how we fight. We are the cheerful warriors, the happy warriors, the cavalier […] We need to fight. We must fight, but the person who fights like a cavalier is an attractive leader. He’s going to attract more people to his side. He’s going to be more effective.”
(The Romantic Rationalist p.166)

I have not always thought this way. I tend to get frustrated with people who don’t see things “my way”, even if my thinking is aligned with Truth. If I’m not delighting in God, then I’m not worshipping Him, and where there is no worship there can be no joy. If I am not joyful, then who wants to listen to what I have to say anyway?

Wilson elaborates that we don’t live as schizophrenic believers either. We “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Christians know how it all ends and that is our hope. Delight has many faces, I’m learning. We can comfort the hurting and celebrate with the joyful because God is our ultimate satisfaction.

 

“Let thy unexampled love constrain me into
holy obedience,
and render my duty my delight.”
(Valley of Vision p.213)

 

Grace upon grace,
April

 

 

 

 

 

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