“Yahweh, to my heart you are a richer joy than all their corn and new wine.” – Psalm 4:7
I’m reminded of the translation of the Beatitudes that’s in a hymn: “Blessed are those whose hunger only holiness can fill, for I say they shall be satisfied.” And “Make Yahweh your joy and he will give you your heart’s desires.” – Psalm 37:4
Abba isn’t waiting around for me to make Him my joy in order to finally respond by rewarding me with happiness through my heart’s desires. It’s much simpler than that. He is always with me, whether I want Him or not. But if I want Him, if He is my heart’s desire, then I’ve got my heart’s desire. End of story.
Except that I complicate matters by trying to get other things instead. I make myself a victim of my circumstances when I tie my happiness to them. If someone around me is upset, I’m unhappy. If I lose something that made me feel secure, I’m unhappy. I can control how I respond to these things, but if I give in to the unhappiness enough, it does start to control me until I am in control less and less. Then I’m unhappy, and I’m stuck waiting around for God to come in and release me from these lesser inconveniences and give me my definition of happiness. I convince myself that if I put Him first, He’ll “fix” things as a sort of reward.
But that’s not how it works. Putting Him first is not a device. On the contrary, putting Him first just means I put my primary focus on getting close to Him. I have to work for it and sometimes it’s dull, but it leads to the best kind of intimacy and closeness and safety and love and everything good. The closer I get the more I long for Him. The more real He gets and the more He blows my mind. And the more I discover that He really does take care of me in a way that’s deeper, more secure, and more satisfying than the small and specific fleeting care I would want. I tend to think I want a quiet, uneventful life so that I don’t have to go through challenging things. Well, challenges are going to come anyway. When I give Him the freedom to take care of me and I stop interfering with His plan, the challenges will still come, but I’ll find them to be worth it because they’ll fit better, life will be exciting in a good way, and He’ll make sure my needs are taken care of when they need to be. He always has. A thousand times it’s looked like things wouldn’t work out, but they always do at the right time. I’m the one who thinks I need to have all these safeguards in place “in case,” always having precautions ahead of time, because I don’t know what will come. Abba does, so He’s free to provide in the moment which is better anyway so I won’t use His provisions on the wrong thing. Let Him.
But all this is still focusing more on my security and my life and my problems more than I’m focusing on Him. The real goal is just to be focused on Him. And we always think that’s such a chore! Once I really am seeing Him, I don’t want to be seeing anything else. All the stuff He’s keeping me secure from doesn’t matter anyway. His provision matters because it’s a view of Him, not because I’m safe or I don’t have to worry. It’s like if my favorite person gives me a gift. The gift is nice but what really overwhelms me is the person and the love they showed me through the gift. The gift just leads me deeper into a focus on that person because I love them so much.
Making God my joy ensures that I get the desires of my heart because I have made Him the desire of my heart. It’s completely self-fulfilling. And the result is exhilarating. I fool myself all the time when I think I want other things instead. But when I’m actually focused on Him, nothing else matters. I can be happy when life is “hard.” What security that is.