These verses are very familiar to most Christians. They are wonderful promises we can claim, relying on them to see us through our hard times. They are so encouraging.
What? Something is missing? That’s not how the verses go? Oh. You mean – “delight yourself IN THE LORD then he’ll give you the desires of your heart.” So does that mean that it is only THROUGH CHRIST who strengthens me that I can do all things? Or that I must SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM AND RIGHTEOUSNESS then all these things will be added? I suppose that also means “IF YOU REMAIN IN ME AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU” is a condition to “ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you”?
The truth is we treat these verses and many more as promises without conditions. We focus on the I rather than Christ in Philippians 4:13. We emphasis our own delight and our own desires in Psalm 37:4. And we only see how our prayers will be answered rather than understand that the answers come from a position of abiding in Christ as John 15:7 tells us. We forget it also says that apart from Christ we can do nothing.
Each of these verses has come to mind over the last few days. I’ve been particularly struck by what it means to “delight in the Lord.” When we are delighted in something or someone, it is a well of joy that bubbles up from our soul. We get a giddy feeling at the mere mention of the object of our delight. We smile, we laugh, we might even giggle. So how often do we giggle at the thought of God? Do we show that same kind of delight for God that we do for our children, grandchildren, pet, favorite hobby or food?
Too often we think only of the desires of our heart being fulfilled, not in delighting in God. Yet as I’ve found, when I truly delight in God, my desires aren’t even a thought. I am so enraptured by God’s love for me as his daughter that whatever my desires are they pale in comparison to my delight in God. Does that mean my desires don’t matter to God? Of course not. What it means is that the right perspective is set for my desires to be fulfilled. It means that my abiding with Christ, as in John 15, is what will direct my requests from God. It means that my priority is on the kingdom of God and his righteousness rather than on all the things I need to live this life. It is from God’s perspective and power that all these blessings happen, not mine.
I can do nothing apart from Christ which means I can do all things through Christ. Understanding that and the power those words contain changes everything.