My Heart's Delight
When I was 9, I became a songwriter. It may have had something to do with walking my neighborhood streets selling boxes of Christmas cards and then selecting the coveted prize of my first guitar among the glossy magazine catalog pages after I managed to sell the requisite number of boxes. I know it had something to do with quickly taking up Saturday morning music lessons, where I plucked out my first simple melodies and learned to strum the basic G, C, D, and E chords. In short order, I enlisted my younger siblings to perform that first Christmas concert in our family living room - my sister on the piano, my brother on the drums - where we played and sang familiar Christmas carols. And the following summer, family and church picnics and campfires provided perfect opportunities to showcase songs like “Pass It On” and “Kumbaya” because a guitar and songs are “must haves” for such times.
At this young age, I needed to learn the familiar, but I quickly developed a heart for writing my lyrics which became a way to creatively express my connection to a world where all was well. Song lyrics and melodies naturally fell into place as they wove themselves around one another. My songs reflected on all the childhood things - family vacations, camping in our motorhome, and my crazy Uncle Dave’s “nuts and bolts” which he used to assemble a DIY mountain buggy for climbing and racing on the weekends. These were happy, simple songs about good times, having fun, family, childhood friends, and my first crush.
When I entered the fourth grade, I distinctly remember a moment - a thought - of what comes next after I die. Concerns and worry about appearance, performance, and death typically start to bud at this middle childhood age, and it was an awareness of my mortality that sparked an anxiety that would surface again and again as I grew older. However, at this tender age, being heavily influenced by my mom’s faith and the PTL Club (yes, it’s true), I also became a Christian, accepting Jesus as my Savior, and knowing I would be following Him into eternity. Be still my anxious heart!
Fast forward several years, and having returned to my guitar and songwriting, I am amazed at how what delighted as a child delights anew as an adult. These “first loves” are called red threads (credit Marcus Buckingham) - activities where you disappear within them, where time flies by, and to which you return time and time. And yes, I wrote a song about it! Songs I crafted and poured out from my heart as an adult saw me through periods of great emotional suffering, depression, grief, and marital difficulty, to renewal and restoration, joy and peace. And yes, despite this incongruency, I did and still do delight in this precious God-given gift of self-expression.
“Delight” means to gain great pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness. Another meaning of the Hebrew word is “to be soft, tender.” Two of the most common Hebrew forms of delight are hepes (,pej) “to bend towards, to be inclined towards (an object or person),” and rasa (h’x’r) “to delight or take pleasure in.” Delight is not a form of flattery, but instead a form of honesty and self-presentation. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Since it is human nature to battle against self-worship, we are tempted to focus on the latter half of this verse which seems to promise that God will give us whatever our little heart desires. However, I think lovers of God are those who are soft and tender toward him, always teachable, and always pliable in his hands. In our relationship with Jesus, we delight in what he desires for us as he, in turn, delights in our fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.
David could say, “The reason God delivered me from my enemies, from all my sorrows and the powers of Hell, is because I am precious to him. My God delights in me! He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19
God delights in every detail of our lives (Psalm 37:23). This is so encouraging to me! He delights in our seeing, savoring, and sharing his supreme value and goodness. God values our valuing him. He delights in our delighting in him. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) tells us “The Lord your God…will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” And in response, I am delighted to do the same for him.
I close with one thought that holds as my personal and lasting truth: “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath. May He be pleased with my song.” (Psalm 104: 33-34).