Delighting in God

I’ve loved the Lake District for a lifetime. I seem to draw close to God in the majesty of that landscape. It’s when I have my best conversations with Jesus, sense the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and enjoy the presence of  God.

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The Langdale Pikes

Antiquarian bookshop

When it rains in the Lake District, however – it really rains – “bucketing down” all day long! One such day in the summer of 1993 there wasn’t much incentive to walk in the mountains so we decided instead to drive to the coast – to an old fishing port called Whitehaven.

AntiquarianA

It was still raining very heavily when we arrived, so it was a relief to dash into a little, old, low-beamed bookshop to shelter there. Wandering around, I came across a basket of books and picked up a small, very old book, written in 1674!

The language was antiquated and extremely difficult to read. I put it back in the basket and continued to wander around the shop. However, I kept finding myself drawn back to that basket and to that book.

Several times I looked at it and decided against it because of the difficulty of the language. But that mysterious power kept propelling me back to the book – until eventually I gave up and decided that I’d better buy it. Only later would I know for certain that I had experienced a divine prompting to buy that little book.

Parting gift

It took some months for me to ‘translate’ the book – and it was a revelation to me. The book was written centuries earlier by John Howe, a vicar, as a parting gift to the little flock in Great Torrington, Devon, that he’d pastored for many years. In the book he laid out those thoughts he most wanted to leave with his parishioners now that he would no longer be with them.

That alone would have intrigued me – to know what, at the end of his ministry, he considered to be the most important thing he wanted his congregation to remember! The book was called A Treatise of Delighting In God and for me it would prove to be life-changing! All these years later I still have that book

Delighting in GodAborder

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

In the Dedication, Howe reminded his “dearly esteemed friends” of the many sermons he’d preached on that passage of Scripture during the years he’d been with them. “The matter here treated,” he wrote, “is the very substance of religion; the first and the last; the root and the flower; both the basis and foundation; and the top and perfection of practical godliness, which runs through the whole of it.”

Back then I’d never heard anyone talk about delighting in God. It had never occurred to me to delight in God. I was immensely grateful to Him for breaking into my life over a decade earlier and revealing his existence to me. I was in awe of Him – and eager to please Him. But my spiritual life was somewhat dominated by a sense of failing to be and to do what I felt I ought to be and do.

Delightful journey

And yet, the memory of how I’d felt absolutely compelled to buy the book told me that the message of the book was very important. God wanted me to delight in Him! And so began a delightful journey that continues to this day! I would gradually come to understand how delight grows – and fuels yet more delight – in a God who I was coming to know more and more in all the little ways in which He gave me glimpses of His character.

I realised that I wasn’t being asked to delight in a distant unknowable God – but in a God who delighted in finding innumerable ways of demonstrating His love and care for me – by making His glorious presence felt in my life.

When we are most delighted in Him

Someone once said that God is most glorified when we are most delighted in Him. Or, as John Howe had put it centuries earlier, delighting in God is “the very substance of religion; the first and the last; the root and the flower; both the basis and foundation; and the top and perfection of practical godliness, which runs through the whole of it.”

John Howe (1630 – 1705)

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

How Great Thou Art – Shane and Shane 

A prayer

Dear God I want to to delight in you more and more. Jesus, I want you to be the desire of my heart and I want you to share your heart with me. I want to worship you out of very real, tangible heart-knowledge of you. Amen

To be continued