I have a reading schedule that generally involves a chapter of the Old Testament and a chapter of the New Testament most days. I enjoy working through God’s word in this way. Before I read, I like to pray that the Lord will renew my mind, that he will lead me closer to himself, and that he will help me to know his will through the Scripture.
For some reason, however, I sometimes sense the need to simply sit and listen to the Psalms. I use the Bible.is App set to the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. Sometimes I listen to only a few chapters, and at other times to many of the Psalms at once. I trust the Lord to focus my attention on what he wants me to know.
While listening to the Psalms, the Lord sometimes draws my attention to something that I might not have noticed before. The fun part is that the items to which he draws my attention often seem new and fresh. Even though I’ve likely heard or read them several times over the years, I hear them as if it was for the very first time. This happened again earlier this week.
On this occasion I happened to listen to Psalms 1-82 in one sitting. There were many encouraging portions of this incredible record of individuals crying out to or praising the Lord. One that stood out in particular is found in the middle of Psalm 40. In the ESV, the beginning of Psalm 40:8 reads:
I delight to do your will, O my God.
This might have stuck out to me because at times we may think of the Lord’s will as burdensome. In a world where seeking to please God is generally way outside the mainstream, it can be difficult and costly to do so. And yet, when I heard these words I smiled to myself and sensed great joy.
One of my favorite books is The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This was published in 1678 and has been a classic of English literature for over 300 years. I enjoy this book because the Author uses a path on which the main character must stay to represent God’s will. As the Pilgrim makes his way on this path he’s often tempted to leave it for one reason or another. This represents his leaving God’s will.
When I heard the words of Psalm 40:8 my mind pictured a path in the woods. It’s not always easy to stay on the path of God’s will, yet when we do so it does, indeed, result in great joy eventually. I say eventually because it may not be right away that we understand why God led us a certain way. It might be months or years later. It may even have to wait until we’re in heaven and look back on our life on earth before we understand how and why God led and protected us as he did. Whatever the case, the phrase, “I delight to do your will, O my God” helps me to be thankful for God’s leading and care. It reminds me that God knows every detail of the Christ follower’s life. He knows the beginning, the middle, and the end. And he knows what’s best.
To delight in God’s will as we walk the path of this life makes all the difference. Trusting that he knows best and will guide us appropriately should help us to obey even when it seems burdensome or costs us dearly. It may not always be easy, but my prayer for me, for those I most dearly love, and for all Christ followers is that we will love God so much that we come to a place that we delight in his will no matter what. May it be so, and may he clearly guide us to know his will through his word and through the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit. Amen.