Instead of being sleepless in Seattle due to jetlag, I am now zweating in Zambia. It is good to be back but I am not sure the human body was supposed to go from 50 degrees to 95 degrees overnight.
Not much has changed here in Zambia in the past 2 weeks, but I was surprised to come back and see a tree in our yard in full bloom. This tree was supposedly "dead" as declared by my wife. But, the tree must have overheard her and blossomed in a fury. It is interesting to note that the mangos are also beginning to grow. Why interesting? Well, it's hot season and it hasn't rained in at least six months. Six months! Crazy. And yet, the Jacarandas are in full blossom and now this tree, the fruit trees, with no water... What gives? Well, the roots run deep, they store the water and they become most beautiful in the hottest times.
I can't help but see a little similarity in this passage that I am preaching on tomorrow during our Veritas graduation. (More on this tomorrow as I share pictures of the 50+ pastors and leaders who have been taught by our pastors who we taught!)
Psalm 1:1-3 – 1-Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The tree yields it fruit when it should be withering because the roots run deep in water-filled places. And, it seems that God is saying that a man is like this too. When we should be withering in the hot scorched waterless times of our lives, if we delight in the word instead of delighting in world, we too, blossom beautiful to provide fruit and beauty to the world around us. Not merely reading or memorizing or studying, but delighting... Delight? Endure the word, or do it out of discipline or do it because we feel guilty or we know we are supposed to... But delight? The world delight means to desire or to take pleasure. It is not enough to just know the word or know about the word, but it must become the desire of our lives if we are to be able to blossom during the difficult and less difficult times in our lives. How do we grow in our delight in the word? Because if I am honest, I find more delight in sports than reading the bible. I love watching movies and hanging with friends and at times, just about anything more than reading the bible. How do I grow in this necessary requirement for bearing fruit in my life?
John Piper provides a beautiful way to prayer delight into our lives:
The psalmists point the way here. They struggled like you and I do with motivation and with seasons of weak desires. What did they pray to keep the fires of delight in God’s Word burning? Three examples from the prayer life of the psalmists:
1. They prayed for the inclination to meditate on the Bible—for the “want to”. If you lack desire, don’t just have a defeated attitude and say, “I can’t enjoy it because I don’t have the desire.” That is the way atheists talk. God is in the business of creating what is not. So the psalmist prays in Psalm 119:36, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain.” We admit to God that our hearts incline to the computer or the newspaper or the TV and we plead with him that he reach in and change our inclinations so that we love to read and memorize and meditate on the testimonies of God.
2. Secondly, the psalmists prayed that they would have spiritual eyes to see great and wonderful things in the Word, so that their desires and delights would be sustained by truth, by reality. Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” If we are going to be inclined to the Word and stay with it and delight in it and memorize it and meditate on it, we must see more than dull facts, we must see “wonderful things.” That is not the function of the natural mind alone. That is the work of the Spirit to give you a mind to see great things for what they really are. Delight-giving Bible reading and Bible meditation is a work of God on our hearts and minds. That is why we must pray continually for that divine work.
3. Finally, the psalmists prayed that the effect of their inclining to the Word and their seeing wonderful things in the Word would be a profound heart-satisfaction that would sustain them through droughts and make them fruitful for others. Psalm 90:14, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
We ask God to awaken the delight that Psalm 1 says we should have. Delight in God is a miracle. This is what it means to be a Christian, and being a Christian is not a mere choice to believe a fact. Being a Christian is believing the truth of God because there is a spiritual apprehension of its beauty and glory. When that soul-satisfying glory starts to fade, we must fight off the deadly effects of worldliness and immerse ourselves in the Word where his glory is revealed, and then pray and pray and pray, “O satisfy me in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days.”
So may we grow as a generation of delighters in God’s word who blossom fruit in the hottest of times!
Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1990-1999). Minneapolis: Desiring God.