Trusting and Delighting in 2018
We live in a directionless age – an age where people just want to know something that’s true that they can live for. People today are desperate for direction. How else do you explain the persistence of horoscopes and the ongoing existence of magic 8 balls and tarot card shops? Those things aren’t good or healthy necessarily, but they are evidence of a need and a hunger, even in a sophisticated, modern, and scientific age like our own.
One of the most important things that God gives to his people is direction, purpose, and mission. While the Apostles and Prophets often (though not always!) heard very specific words from God, that isn’t the ordinary way that God cares for and leads his people today.
Today, if we want to know what to do, what to rejoice in, how to live, why we’re here, we go to God’s written, unchanging Word. And as the new year is about to dawn, and we’re on the verge of throwing another calendar in the garbage, what should be our mentality as we approach the new year? How can we please the Lord in 2018?
I would commend to you a couple verses from Psalm 37. I was reading them this morning and it struck me that one could do far worse than to make these verses the song of our hearts in the coming year.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
What makes these verses so helpful to me are these twin actions that David commends to us: Trust and Delight.
These are things we do all the time. We’re always trusting and delighting in something. But here’s the important thing for 2018. David isn’t telling us to just trust in anything. The truly important thing is Whom we delight and trust in. David says “Trust in the Lord.” We’re great at trusting, but here we’re told where to put our trust. Along with that he says “befriend faithfulness,” which I think is the Psalmist’s way of saying, “acquaint yourselves well with the ways God has been faithful.” This is a recipe for a life of gratitude. Put your trust in the right place, and then rehearse for yourself the ways that your trust has been rewarded.
But David also says “Delight yourself in the Lord.” In other words, “take pleasure in God.” We’re all great delighters – great worshipers. We’re great at enjoying things, and we gravitate toward those things.
We are all far greater worshipers than we may give ourselves credit for. The sad truth though, is that it’s often all the wrong things that we delight in and worship. The stuff that gives us joy often isn’t sinful in itself, but when we make the minor stuff ultimate stuff, it becomes a problem; we become idolaters. David says to us, “In 2018 let your compass of joy point to the Lord.” Find your pleasure in God. Read about his beauty and his might. Talk about his salvation and greatness with others. Study him to know him better. Sing about the High King of Heaven. Pray to the faithful and true One who’s never let you down. Rehearse for yourself how he blesses and keeps you.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord.” And the result, according to David? “He will give you the desires of your heart.” In other words, desire the Lord and he will give you the thing that you most desire: Himself.
C.S. Lewis says that the fact that we get famished is proof that there is a such thing as food. And then he says the fact that we yearn for something that this world can’t satisfy is proof that there is someone beyond this world that our hearts are truly desperate for.
And yet the Lord promises us that the yearning we live with – the One we find ourselves constantly yearning for? He’s real. And he’s satisfying. Hence, St. Augustine’s dictum, “You, O God, have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
We can’t exactly predict what 2018 has in store. Not everything that happens will be easy or pleasant. If history repeats itself, we are likely to know challenges. As we prepare for these things I don’t know what you should do in 2018 – not specifically, and not exactly. What I do know is that we could do far worse than to trust in the Lord and delight in the Lord this coming year.