Click play below to listen to the full audio of Lesson 11 on Psalm 119 led by Kay Wyma.
I meant to share a little something about “delighting” in God’s Word on Tuesday. Of course, I was so engrossed in all we were discussing, I forgot to even look at my notes. It’s something I wrote a long while ago when I didn’t want to forget life-truths we were learning when Jack was little. [Bear with the mediocrity of it – and length – I actually cut out about 1000 words that go with it. It was my first thought of a book. I was going to call it “According to Jack”] – here’s what I learned from Jack about delight.
When Jack was little, it never mattered where we were, if he heard music the kid would start dancing. One day, Jon tried to describe Jack’s music fascination to friend. “He really loves music. It is so funny… you have to see him dance. He delights in whatever song is playing.”
When I heard Jon use the word “delight”, it struck me – is this what “delight” looks like? Something that consumes every inch of you in pure pleasure? Something that pulses through each vein, every muscle, every emotion and transports you from the present to a fanciful, care-free, joy-filled location. It sounds like some cosmic drug from the 60’s, but in Jack’s world, it’s music.
That’s exactly what it was. Delighting in the music.
For me, it made me think of a familiar place where I had often heard that word, but had never really grasped its meaning. I’ve heard for years that I should “delight in God’s Word”. Whether from the pulpit of our southern Baptist church or the countless times I passed by the words themselves in Scripture – I never got it.
My approach to reading the Bible fell more on the tolerating end – wanting to like it, but more often than not choking, or spitting it out. Then hiding the fact that I just “don’t get it” in a thin white napkin like I hid the beets (that I needed to eat but didn’t like) in my napkin at camp.
A far cry from the delight that Jack does when he hears music.
So what’s the story? Throughout the Bible, we’re encouraged to “delight in the law of the Lord”. If God says to delight in it, surely He knows that we can. That such a reaction is available to us, even beneficial. And if “delight” looks like what Jack experiences when music hits his ear, can I have the same reaction when a Psalm hits mine?
I guess so. I hope so. But what stops me?
Here a few things I’ve noticed about Jack and his delighting:
- Jack is uninhibited when it comes to music. It seems that even if he wanted to, he could not willingly stop his little booty from moving to the rhythm. He isn’t driven by who’s watching – or not watching, for that matter. He hears the notes and moves – regardless of the situation.
- No one is telling Jack, “Okay, when you hear the music, the first thing you do is sway back and forth. Next, move you head from side to side, or up & down to the beat. Add some rhythmic shoulders-shrugs and a few toe taps, maybe a well-timed leg lift – and you’ve got the look. You go baby!”
So why do I feel crippled by my need for direction when it comes to reading the Bible. Its just so big, so full of strange stories and difficult directives.
If I let go of my inhibitions and weird presuppositions – might I be able to read it and let it sink in for what it is: 1) incredibly beautiful prose, 2) history at its best and worst, 3) the only time-tested and true life-manual ever written, and, most importantly 4) God’s story that He wrote to us – mankind – in a remarkably individual and collective way – through the strangest of ghost writer(s), mankind.
Can I be like Jack when he hears music? All that is available in this best-selling book, in and of itself, promises at the very least a compelling read. But it offers SO much more than that. It’s a significant portion of the life-giving provision promised by the Giver of all good things.
Still, I can catch myself approaching it with preconceived ideas/baggage that can make it difficult to for me to honestly delight in it.
- Jack is not a genre snob. He grooves to the cheesy 80’s, squeals to children’s gospel, rocks to ‘90’s Alternative and yes bumps to the teen sensation Jonas Brothers. His favorite is the heavy rap dished to us at Finish Line (my oldest’s favorite shoe store at the mall.) But it doesn’t really matter. He could care less. So when I’m in the mood to be transported to my youth with a little England Dan and John Ford Coley, Bread, or Jim Croce, Jack’s there loving every minute with me.
When I watch him, I can’t help but be compelled by the implications. Do I grasp what is behind Scripture? Whatever the story, whatever the book within the book, do I get that God is behind it all? When I’m reading the gut-wrenching story of Job, do I grasp the powerful underlying message that God is in control/Lord over every situation and all circumstances?
And – when I’m dutifully reading through one of the many mind-numbing lists of who begat whom lineages do I think beyond the names and look at the significance? That the Lord knows every single person by name and has a purpose for each and every one? Or, am I so consumed with how it serves me that I can’t get beyond myself to see God behind all the words?
I think I might be getting to one of the secrets to delighting in God’s Word. I need to quit making it all about me. If Jack was making it all about himself, I know with certainty we would not be watching uninhibited enjoyment of something that instinctively delights him. There’s a pretty big lesson in there for me if I can get it.
- Jack’s complete and utter abandon when introduced to whatever music might have caught his attention impacts the people around him. It happens almost daily. From Benihana’s, to Costco (you know those kiosks, home to sappy albums that you can demo on the spot), to a boombox blasting disco at the house where were trick-or-treating – people can’t help but stop and broadly smile as they themselves find great joy in what delights him. His dancing causes them to stop, to actually hear the music that, before seeing Jack, was just background noise. Then they start to feel the beat with him. For me, my moment is brighter whenever I catch him dancing. I stop and back out the pressing issue is at hand, and I spend a few minutes enjoy the moment. How much more might Scripture do the same if I sought delighting in it.
If Jack had some agenda in his love of music, not only would he not be as carefree in his unbridled joy, he would be crippled by some desire to force smiles from his little audiences. Instead it is totally spontaneous. Spontaneous because it’s genuine.
Over the last few years as I’ve approached Scripture anew – in an effort to know God rather some self-indictment or rule book – I’ve realized that that I actually can “delight” in it, in the same way that Jack hears his tunes. The Lord’s love interlaced through all the words (even those that can appear cold on the surface) can pulse through me like the notes that go in Jack’s ears and out his toes.