River of Delights

I was speaking with a counselee about finding delight in the Lord.” Does the Bible excite you?” “Does God’s Word amuse you?” Sadly the counselee answered no. Secondly I asked, “Why is it so hard to muse, ponder, admire or be in awe of His works?” I appreciated the honest response. The crux of the answer was this: “There’s nothing new. There’s no new angle. It is the same as it’s always been. There is no ‘latest and greatest.’ I cannot look up the most recent episode of the Bible.” I had to think about that. There are nuggets of truth in this response. The Bible is not like a TV series. It’s not like anticipating the last Big Bang Theory episode or the next Pixar or Disney movie. I found myself fighting to understand what drives us when we are waiting for that next exciting release of entertainment.

Part of the drive is the unknown. We love mystery. That’s why games involving search, like the CLUE board game, are so popular. Isn’t that the crux of our fascination with the latest form of entertainment called ‘Breakout or Escape Rooms’? You and a group of friends can engage in an exhilarating strategy to attempt escape from a particular themed room in a specified amount of time. We get so intrigued with figuring things out. The corn mazes, the crossword puzzles, the webbed plots combine to bring us hours of joy and delight and amusement.

Another motivation is we like ‘new.’ The situation is even better if nobody has done this before. Nobody has seen this before. It’s the creativity that jumps out at us. Inquiring minds want to know what is the next-best-thing coming out! Our minds seem to need more stimulation than is already available. Why are we bored so easily? It’s getting really hard to even want to watch an old movie twice. Been there! Done that!

Also we like anticipation and feeling the day of fulfillment as it approaches. We like to think about it and write possible story lines in the mind. The imagination just runs away with us. Knowing that the latest and greatest is coming allows me to create excitement and use my mind to ponder, imagine, speculate. What is it about this anticipation that makes me so happy and so exhilarated?

There is a problem though; the euphoria is short-lived. I can never get enough out of it. I am always looking for the next new engagement. Is this sequel going to be better than the last one? Artists have to push greater innovations to ‘wow’ me because my expectation gets higher every time. Why do I remain so thirsty? Why can I not be satisfied? Is there not an unending source of intrigue, innovation and gratification?

Imagine my relief when I discovered that our steadfast God offers a continual fresh stream of delight. Whew! How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. (Psalms 36:7-8). Don’t you find it amazing –maybe even slightly strange—that God has a river of delights? Do you know what delights are? Delights are things that bring joy and happiness. A delight is something that gives great pleasure and satisfaction. Let me run through a few things that give me great pleasure. Chocolate cake is at the top of the list. Sunsets over the water rank high, too. When my child vacuums my van before being asked, I am SO happy. There are chick flicks that rend my heart in wonderful ways. And did I mention a warm embrace from my husband where I get to snuggle my nose right into his shirt that is exuding the scent of my favorite soap! Aaah, total bliss. All these things really do make me ecstatic! Now let’s review again; God has a river of great pleasure too. That means the sweet treats in His river can make me feel as good as any of my above-mentioned pleasures. Actually all these pleasure-producing activities come from His river anyway!

I sort of proved the existence of this river to myself by mistake, the other day. I was reading Exodus 28, which I expected to be mundane, when I was struck by a few verses which I chose to read a second time. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your bother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill… It generated some questions in my mind. Does God appreciate beauty? How does holiness relate to beauty? I think of holiness as a serious matter with no laughter or passion involved. Holiness is stoic. It’s about getting behavior and attitude lined up with God, isn’t it? The other amazing part is that he fills people with skill for creating glory and beauty. He gives us the creative power to make things that are distinguished, renowned and attractive. I started to weep because I realized that there are so many things around me that I find beautiful and absolutely delightful but I never consider that they all flow from HIS HOLY river of delights. These discoveries include the calm I feel when I look out at the green trees. There’s the assurance and warmth I feel when I get up early enough to see the sun coming over the horizon. There are the squeals of glee I emit when I see shooting stars and far away planets. There’s the joy I feel when I think of the relationships I have with specific people. It does make me feel good. God makes things for beauty. Ultimately, I am a creature who enjoys delight because my Creator majors in delight. He’s fully holy and fully delightful. God is pro-beauty and pro-delight!

I was still venturing through Exodus when I spotted the source of Pixar and Disney’s success as well. In Exodus 31 I saw these words: “and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver and bronze…to work in every craft” Case in point: Artistic design comes from God. I cannot credit man with being the source of that.

So what exactly did I say to the counselee who was bored with the Bible? Answer: You’re reading it wrong! When you look in the Word of God and you cannot find delight, you are forgetting the source of all delight. He is the God of delight in the world around us AND He is the God of delight in the narrative of the Bible. Great are the works of the Lord. They are studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work (Psalm 111:2-3a). You can see the bursting brilliance and gripping gorgeousness in the works of the Lord, if you look closely. We need to be more like the Psalmist who refused to give up on the delight of the Lord:

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” –Psalm 119:14-16

I think we forget that God’s Word is in His river of delights. It is meant to absolutely ‘wow’ us along with the other delights. We should read it with child-like wonder. The God who creates people from whom beauty and delight flow, has to be able to create the beauty and delight Himself – better than they do. And get this bonus: the delight from His Word never fades and always satisfies. As we actually start to believe that the Bible is in fact TRUE, our delight and thrill with it will definitely increase. We will start to see the newness of life that it brings each day. We will start to anticipate time with it – time with HIM. We will appreciate the creativity of God’s design and God’s obvious presence in filling mankind with the skill of innovation. Ask God to ‘Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18) If we actually understood that the Word is TRUE, we would be bouncing off the walls from wonder.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go clean those scuff marks off the ceiling.

Candace DunstonCandace Dunston
Candace is the homeschooling mom of five children and has been married to Phillip for 25 years. She is a certified biblical counselor and serves in the counseling ministry at Faith Church. She enjoys teaching parenting classes and marriage ministry with Phillip and speaking at various women’s events.