Celtic Spiritual Poetry (25)
I wish, O Son of the Living God, ancient eternal King, for a secret hut in the wilderness, that it may be my dwelling.
A very blue shallow well to be beside it, a clear pool for washing away sins through the grace of the Holy Spirit…
A few sage disciples, I will tell their number, humbled and obedient to pray to the King…
My fill of clothing and of food from the King of good fame, and for me to be sitting for a while praying to God in every place.
- Anonymous, “The Wish of Manchán of Liath, Irish, 10thcentury
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
- Psalm 37.4-6
People never grow tired of wishing for things. They wish their kids would obey. They wish they’d get a promotion or a raise. They wish they had more time to do the things they’ve never gotten around to. They wish they didn’t do so many dumb things, could get a little more respect, or that that guy in the office would just shut up.
A wish expresses the temper of the heart. Since wishes are a function of the imagination, they reveal something of the unseen vision that directs our souls. Wishes can create in us a sense of anticipation or excitement, especially when it seems they might actually come true. They can also flood our souls with ennui, resentment, and even anger when we sense we’re never going to get what we really want.
The psalmist teaches us how to realize all the most fervent wishes and desires of our heart: Delight yourself in the Lord. See the Lord Jesus, exalted in glory, as the most beautiful, most admirable, most awesome and inspiring, most loving and strong, and most thrilling and glorious of all things. See Him like John did in Revelation 1, or the apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration. Be amazed at His great beauty and strength, His infinite wisdom and goodness, His with-you-always faithfulness. Look intently at Jesus, and consider Him from every angle, until your joy in Him increases, and you delight in nothing more than to see Jesus in His glory.
When Jesus is the commanding delight of your soul, then your wishes will sound more like those of Manchán of Liath: wishes to be with the Lord, to be clean and holy in His Presence, to share in His life and work with other like-minded seekers, and to rejoice in all His blessings and provision, in the simplest and most humble of circumstances.
If the great wish of your heart is to see Jesus, He will give you more of Himself. If you wish for Jesus, commit each day to walk with Him, and trust Him for your every next step, all your wishes will be realized, for “He shall bringitto pass,” just as He promised.
The problem with most of us, of course, is that we want Jesus, but we want a whole lot of other things besides Jesus. And if we looked carefully at the focus of our souls, we might see that we want Jesus because we want Jesus to supply us with all those other things – health, peace, a well-paying job, a secure retirement, or a break from that loudmouthed guy at the office.
If we want Jesus because we want Him to give us something other than Jesus, then we’re asking Jesus to be complicit in our idolatry.
Yeah, He’s not gonna do that.
If we want Jesus because we want Jesus – want to see Him more clearly, want to be immersed in His Presence and surrounded by His strength, to be clothed in Him, to delight in and serve Him, and to show Him to others by all our words and deeds – if we desire the Lord like this, He will grant our every wish, because our every wish will be for more of Jesus in and through more of our life.
Let all the most fervent wishes and desires of your heart be for Jesus. Pray to see Jesus, to know and love and delight in Him. Then watch how all your other wishes will begin to change.
And rejoice and give thanks as Jesus turns those wishes for Him into realities.
Questions for Reflection
1. What does it mean to “see” Jesus, exalted in glory? How can that be a more constant vision? Why should we want it to be?
2. Is Jesus enough for you in all the circumstances of your life? Explain.
Psalm 37.4-9 (Neumark: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee)
Delight yourself in God’s salvation; He’ll give you all your heart’s desire.
Commit to Him your every station, and His good purpose will transpire.
Your righteousness a blazing light He will bring forth against the night.
Rest in the Lord and wait on Jesus; fret not at those who practice sin.
Forsake all wrath till anger ceases; let anxious fears not enter in.
The wicked perish from the Lord, but they are blessed who heed His Word!
Lord, tune my heart to sing Your praise, and fix all my desires and hopes and wishes on You, so that I…
Seek the Lord
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T. M. Moore
All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Jackson, p. 280