Be Soft and Pliable

Lyn Thompson, Pastoral Care, CTCA/Southwestern Regional Medical Center

Delight thyself also in Jehovah; and he will give thee the desires of thy heart. - Psalm 37:4

I read this verse along with several others one Monday morning in the chapel as we prepared for prayer time for patients, family members, staff and administration. A patient who was there shared that the word "delight" in Hebrew here meant to be soft and pliable before the Lord. I looked in Strong's Bible Concordance when I got back to the office, and it agreed with him.

That's not something we want to be -- soft and pliable -- easily molded, shaped, bent, moved, modeled into the will of the sculptor. No, we generally prefer being stiff and hard as a rock, immoveable except to our own wishes and will.

But the fulfillment of the second half of that verse is conditioned upon the command in the first half -- to delight in ... to be soft and pliable before the Lord.

So often we want God to answer this prayer or that. We go with a laundry list or like a child with a Christmas list to Santa. We're sure we're asking all good things; they are, after all, things that will make us happy. But that's not what God is all about. It's not what prayer is all about. God doesn't exist for our pleasure and use. Just the opposite. We're made for God's pleasure, delight and use. He's the creator. We're the objects that were created ... for His purposes.

But God loves His creation. He's committed to what He made. He wants to be in relationship with us. He wants us to know Him as intimately as He knows us. And one of the ways for that to happen is for us to spend time with Him in prayer, talking to Him and listening to Him reply. So, He tells us to get to know Him, to delight ourselves in who He is and yield ourselves to Him, so we can experience Him and the life He intended us to have with Him. He wants us to realize our dependency on Him, the fact that even though He made us and graced us with so many talents, abilities and with life itself, we are nothing without Him and have nothing and no life -- not even one breath -- apart from Him. We are weak in comparison to Him, and we need His strength, power, anointing and character to be who He intended us to be and to do what He created us to do. Like a lover with his beloved, God is continually at work revealing Himself to us and demonstrating His great love toward us. And He wants us to take delight in that.

Unfortunately, what generally happens, with our greedy, self-centered, sinful nature, is that we care less about God and getting to know Him ... we just want the answers, the blessings, the gifts ... we just want our desires fulfilled. Show me the money, God. Less talk, more action. Spoiled, self-absorbed, we only want what we want so we can please ourselves.

And, so, more often than not, we find our prayers and requests unanswered. For, as James tells us in James 4:3, we ask and don't receive because we've asked with wrong motives to placate or gratify our own pleasure. We haven't gotten to know God; we haven't delighted in Him; we haven't been soft and pliable in His hands; we haven't entered into a relationship that's resulted in a transformed character and heart desires. We've just taken our carnal hungers, greed and appetites and asked God to bless them and give them to us.

When we fulfill the first part of that verse, we'll find the desires of our hearts lining up with God's desires, His wishes, His thinking, His plan for our lives. We change. No one can be long in God's presence -- in the presence of perfection, of holiness, of goodness, of purity, of righteousness, of kindness, of grace, of love, and of so much more, and not be changed. We begin to see how miserable, miserly and malignant we are in our own thinking, let to our own devices, hungering after our own lusts. So, our longings begin to change. We want to be more like Him, we want to adore Him, worship Him, glorify and exalt Him, this amazing lover who has loved us so truly and is so far above anything He has created, and we want His glory to be seen and experienced by everyone.

At that point, then, what we'll ask for will be different, and we'll ask with the right motives, the right appetite and the right hunger. Why? Because our lives will be infused with His light, His truth, His perspective on our lives, activities, pursuits and needs. Then, when we ask, we can ask in confidence, knowing that God is honored by the request and will be just as delighted in granting it as we will be in receiving it. But, knowing, just as well, that if, in some way, we've asked for something that won't honor the Giver or for something He knows, in His great wisdom and knowledge, isn't good for us or isn't a part of His plan for our lives, we can rest in the totality and perfection of His love for us and praise Him just the same.

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