“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Once upon a time I wrote the life story of a Laotian-American, a man named Kong, a man who is a grandfather, a meat-packer, a prison camp survivor, and a self-described “mean dude” when he worked as for the military police in Laos before the communist takeover in 1975. From Laotian refugees that when they say they were "mean dudes," they aren't kidding.
The most important description I could give him today, he tells me, is that he is a follower of the Lord. He was raised by a strict but loving father, a strong Buddhist. Throughout his life, even in the decades he’s lived in North America—
New York and now —he
considered himself Buddhist too. No
Something happened—a miracle. One night, his nephew was on the brink of death, suffering horribly from an asthmatic attack. An ambulance was called, the boy was rushed off to the hospital, where doctors did everything they could. Kong fell into the kind of despair that prompts all of us to pull out every last stop. He’d never been a believer in the Christian faith, even though his wife had occasionally read some things about Christianity.
Kong had an old friend—they used to be members of a party band together—who had found a new faith that had changed him, that had kept him out of the wild wing-dings once he’d started to believe. In fact, this old friend had become a pastor. From the hospital, Kong called his old friend and told him in no uncertain terms that if prayers to his God could do anything to heal his nephew—who was close to death—then he’d for certain believe in that God too. He’d even come to church.
On his cell phone, Kong found his old friend at a church meeting where a circle of Laotian-American Christians were, at that moment, studying the Bible. When the pastor put down the phone, the group held hands and prayed hard for the boy.
The nephew recovered, and the next week, Kong was in sitting in a pew right in front of his old musician friend, the pastor. Not long after, he and his wife were baptized. That's the story.
I admire Kong’s enthusiasm. I admire his joy at finding a God capable of performing miracles like the one that he saw with his own eyes. Today, he and his old friend are making music together again, but now, he says, it’s in Christian worship and in praise to the Lord.
It’s a great story, and it’s absolutely full of delight, the absolute and eternal delight of this verse. The promise of this verse isn’t quite the equation of the story because even before Kong delighted in the Lord, the Lord gave him the desires of his heart—and those of his family.
The mysteries of the Lord God almighty, King of creation, include this incredible truth: he’s probably never used a Xerox machine. For all of his own—and there are billions—he’s used totally individual means to gather them to his love. Kong’s delight has grown from a single, miraculous answer to a single, fervent prayer request. For Kong, “conversion” was dramatic, immediate, and radical.
Some of us, on the other hand, he nurtures slowly. Some come reasonably; others come emotionally. Some come via the miracle of life; some arrive in his arms by way of death’s dark valleys.
The promise of this verse is for all of us, however. Joy in Him means joy for us. That’s just as much a miracle, really. In that sense, we’re all Xerox copies of his love.