Since I’ve been at home, I’ve felt a little bit of stagnation in my spiritual life. Not too much, but enough to bother me. I thought nothing of it until it led me down a road towards compromise. It was then that I began to focus and see what the problem was.
I examined the way I was spending my time. I was praying in the mornings and reading the Word… what was the problem then?
“Delight thyself also in the Lord…” – Psalms 37:4a
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” – Psalms 40:8
It was these two things that I realized I was not doing. Sure, I was doing all the right things, but the problem was that it was not my delight to do them. I would pray, sure… but after I had spent an extra 20, 30, 60 minutes in bed. I would read my Bible… but after I had gone for a run or checked my email or taken a shower. None of these things are intrinsically wrong. But I found that I had preferred other things over being in the presence of God.
My roommate at Ellerslie, Johnny, told me a story about his dad, and I found it quite profound.
Dad said, “Johnny, sit down, please.”
“Johnny, sit down now.”
“Fine!” And Johnny reluctantly did what his father wanted. However, Johnny’s dad could see through the actions. “Johnny, you may be sitting down, but in your heart you’re still standing up. Obedience isn’t just doing something; it’s doing it with a good attitude.”
I saw that this is what I was doing in my own life, and it manifested itself with all my distractions. Whether it was sleeping, running, Facebooking, or emailing, I was finding my delight in things apart from my God and King.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
It’s almost a direct parallel with the verse in Psalms. When I looked at not only what I was doing, but why I was doing it, it was because I had delighted myself in things other than the Lord. So even when I was doing the right things in obedience, I wasn’t doing it out of love for my Jesus or as joyful worship; I was doing it, well, because I felt I had to.
As I was reading through Deuteronomy, I came across this verse (10:12-13):
“And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”
God didn’t just desire the Israelites to do the things He had said. His desire was for them to love Him, and out of the increase of their love for Him obey all the words and keep them well. It’s just like what Jesus said about the greatest commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”(Matthew 22:37-40)
Without love for God, obedience isn’t worth very much. This was the lesson I learned, that if I wanted to find fulfillment in my prayer time, if I wanted to find satisfaction in the Word, than the thing I must do is delight myself in my God and King. For the pleasures of this earth are so vain, so empty, so worthless. But the pleasures, the life, the love, the joy that God offers to those who will delight themselves in Him is everlasting and richer than a river of gold.