obedience and blessings. passion and delight.

If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve discovered that I desperately want to delight in God more than I delight in the things I’m passionate about.

and I’ve come face to ugly face with the fact that I don’t.

Some of my Christian friends are very uncomfortable with this admission.
Some get exactly what I’m talking about and are on the same path.
Some have been there. I’m learning from and am encouraged by their journey.
Some have no interest and are waiting for me to just chill out and forget about all this.
Some think they know exactly what I’m talking about, but in reality, they think I’m talking about obedience and blessings.

I’ll try to clarify.

I’m not talking about obedience and blessings. or personal satisfaction. or security. or peace. This is not about serving God, helping others and living a “good Christian life.”

I’m talking about DELIGHT. JOY. A passionate desire for God. Because He’s GOD.

I don’t define “finding delight in God’s gifts” as the satisfaction that comes from living a good, moral Christian life that provides me with a sense of accomplishment and a good night’s sleep at the end of the day.

I haven’t found that consistent prayer and Bible reading automatically result in intimacy with God. I’ve experienced spiritual dryness smack in the middle of some of the most prayerful seasons of my life. I’ve had to pray my way out of a pit before. It’s dark. It’s painful. It’s slow. and I hated it. but it was good.

I don’t hold to the belief that if I’m obedient, God will bless me. I know there ain’t no tit for tat when it comes to obedience and blessing. Checking off a Christian to-do list won’t earn me protection from trials. I have absolutely NO deluded sense that “if” I’m obedient, “then” God will reward me in this life.

I’ve read the book of Job.

I haven’t found that intimacy with Christ means I delight in Him because of WHO HE IS. I am more intimate with God than with any human. He knows what I look like naked. and I don’t mean nekkid. I mean He KNOWS me. I tell Him everything. EVERYthing. Even the stuff I don’t want to tell Him about myself because I don’t want to hear it. or face it. I thank Him. often. For SO. MUCH. I confess to Him. often. For SO. MUCH. I plead with Him. often. For SO. MUCH.

In 2007, 27 years after I became a Christian, I entered into an intimate relationship with God that has changed my life. But I want to be closer. So I asked Him to show me what separates me from Him. (Be careful what you pray for.) He’s been showing me for over a year and I’ve been arguing with Him.

Until now.

I’ve decided to stop doing the activities that I’ve come to depend on to fill me with delight and desire for God.

That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped living a good, moral Christian life. Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading my Bible, or praying or seeking God’s will or striving to be obedient to God. Although the praying, seeking God’s will and striving to be obedient look very, Very, VERY different than they did a few months ago, I’m NOT going to stop doing any of those things.

I need to let go of the things I’m passionate about. They are crutches that I’ve come to depend on to lead me to delight in the Lord. I need to lean on HIM. I need to find a way to experience delight and joy in HIM ALONE. Even in the absence of those things.

you follow?

spurgeon quote fullness of ChristI experience true joy and I delight in the essence of WHO God IS when I lead worship. Leading worship is not something I do as service. I am PASSIONATE about it. It fuels me. I’m up at 5:45am on Sunday morning so I have time to pray before I have to be at rehearsal at 8:15am. During most praise sets, I find a connection with the Holy Spirit that makes me forget myself. It’s my mountaintop. every. week. I don’t do it out of obedience. I do it because when I do it, I find joy and delight in WHO GOD IS.

And I’ve come to realize I depend on it too much. I don’t know how to find that same joy and delight in God without it. I’ve realized that I find joy in the artist through the joy I find in the art. And that’s no longer enough for me. I want more. I need to figure out how to be fully satisfied in God even if I never get to lead worship again.

When I’ve discovered how to do that, will He let me lead worship again? Don’t know yet. Maybe not. and I need to be okay with that or this entire search is a lie.

I find joy and delight in WHO GOD IS when sharing my faith through writing and speaking. I’m passionate about both. Ideas wake me up in the middle of the night and demand to be written down. I start writing and realize I haven’t eaten all day. I start speaking and realize I’m supposed to be wrapping up. 10 minutes ago. I need to learn how to find joy and delight in HIM, not just through speaking and writing about Him.

When I’ve discovered how to do that, will He give me something to say and write about again? Don’t know yet. Maybe not. and I need to be okay with that or this search is a lie.

A friend hit it head on in a blog comment a few days ago:

“If desire implies that you are not content without it, I would think it sinful.”

I am not content with the thought of not writing a book.
I am not content with the thought of not being a Christian speaker or teacher.
I am not content with the thought of never leading worship again.

and there it is.

I need – desperately need – to be content without these things. I need to desire GOD and find joy in Him directly, not through the joy and delight I experience when I write about him, speak about Him or sing to Him. I prayed for Him to show me what separated me from Him and He has.

I need to be fully satisfied in Him because of WHO HE IS.

[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”]

3 thoughts on “obedience and blessings. passion and delight.

  1. We should also note that if your delight is wholly in God then your desires will not be for anything that would diminish his centrality in your soul. You won’t want anything that has the potential of turning your heart to trust in anyone but him. If your “desires’ are for the stuff of this world that would detract from your complete satisfaction in God, then you aren’t truly delighting yourself in him.

  2. Yep, they are indeed twin sisters. The name-it-and-claim-it version of man-centered religion says, “You have been given all authority, speak into your deliverance, boldly claim what is yours out of Satan’s hand”. So, obviously I’m a little less familiar with the exact language they put into our mouths, but this is essentially their message. Instead of work hard at holiness to get God’s pleasure, it is asserting your authority over creation, declaring atoms in the body relocated for healing. It is prayers prayed like mantras over someone afflicted with suffering. It is techniques for controlling the Holy Spirit, or activities that demonstrate external evidences of spiritual activity. They have exchanged the imperative commands for the indicative promises, and now use them as leverage to get God to work for them. And the promise of the Christian life is hidden behind spiritual shenanigans, empowered man, and the guise of freedom. All the while it is beholden to the master teacher who has determined what buttons to push, or action to perform this month or at this service, always having to come up with something new to keep it fresh (or to keep the loyal enslaved). And this sounds quite a bit like Paul exhorting Timothy in 1 Timothy 6 to avoid those who have been ensnared by the love of money, power, and possessions and “have the appearance of godliness, but deny its real power (2 Timothy 3:5)”. Nope, name-it-and-claim-it, wacky, man-made, weaselly, just speak it, sort of “gospel” doesn’t honor God nor bring him glory. And it’s shockingly scary how similar these two version of “Christianity” really are. They both are about our performing … Do this and God will act, don’t do this and God is pleased. They both focus on you doing (or not doing) something. So, what then is the answer?

  3. What does it really look like to let God delight in me? I don’t know. But likely, it means I should step away from the computer a little more often. And probably, it means I should pray without an agenda. And definitely, it means I have to trust. I have to know that I can put my to-do list aside, because I am loved for who I am, not what I accomplish.

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