A progressive relationship
The Creator of the Universe is a God who values order. There was order and progression when creation took place – light first, then ground, next plants, followed by animals, and lastly humans. We refer to the predictable steps of any process as its “lifecycle”. We understand that every activity we encounter will have a beginning and then subsequent phases that are passed through, one after another. Similarly, there is a natural progression in our relationship with God.
Read though this section of Psalm 119 and look for the active verbs used to describe how the psalmist interacts with God:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word.
I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands.
I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.
Lord, may You be praised; teach me Your statues.
With my lips I proclaim all the judgments from Your mouth.
I rejoice in the way revealed by Your decrees as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways.
I will delight in Your statues; I will not forget Your word.
I have sought…I have treasured…I proclaim…I rejoice…I will meditate…I will delight
When we look for it, the natural process of a relationship with God clearly stands out. The verbs are flowing through past, present, and future steps as the author describes his interaction with God.
Where do you find yourself in this progression?
I have heard many well-intentioned speakers tell me that I need to be rejoicing in the Lord and that I should always delight in Him. While I agree that those actions are great things to do and I would love to be able to whole-heartedly rejoice and delight in God always…the progression we see in the psalm reveals why I’ve likely struggled with doing them or felt guilty about not feeling completely genuine when I try to do them.
Before the psalmist rejoiced, or even got to delight, can you see where he started? He sought God with all of his heart. Next he purposely treasured God’s word in his heart, in order to avoid sin and the damage that sin would cause to the relationship.
It wasn’t until after he had pursued God and valued God that the psalmist was ready to proclaim all the judgments from God’s mouth. He wasn’t able to communicate God’s decisions until after he knew God intimately. Historically, the American church has pushed its people to make sure they are “spreading the gospel” and “sharing their story” instead, the church’s focus should have been making sure we’re actively seeking God and valuing His word. Telling others about Jesus will be easy if we already have the relationship in place, but it’s nearly impossible to explain the decisions and motivations of a person you have no relationship with.
From there the psalmist found joy in the way revealed by God’s decrees, even to the point that he now looks forward to meditating and thinking about God’s ways. The delight that he takes from God’s word then isn’t something he’s drummed up from within himself, rather it is the culmination of a deep-seeded relationship with his Creator.
If you’re not where you’d like to be in this relationship timeline, take a step back and ensure you’re developing your intimacy with God by seeking Him and purposely treasuring His word. The rest will naturally progress from that investment.