Three weeks in a row the same prayer request from the same woman read, “Pray that God would restore the joy and delight I once found in Him”.   Remembering when that same request was the silent cry of my heart, I mentally retraced my path of rediscovering delight in God.

Like most God-directed journeys, this one began with an unexpected change of plans.  One spring day I was informed that the following year I would be teaching the Pentateuch to high school students at the local Christian school.  Though I had anticipated fun in the sun and some time away from school work, because this was a new teaching assignment I spent my summer working my way from Genesis to Deuteronomy.  I was determined to be faithful to God and to my students.  Up to that point in my life I tended to work sixteen to eighteen hour days, and so losing my summer break led my heart to cry out, “God, you know I love you, but I’m so tired and my joy in you is gone.  Help me find delight in you.”

In God’s providence, the answer to my heart’s cry coincided with what He wanted to teach me about the Sabbath.

When school began in the fall I was ready.  I taught that in Genesis 2 the seventh day held a special place in God’s economy – He called it holy.  When we got to Exodus 16, I explained that God used the Sabbath to train the Israelites to trust Him as they collected extra manna on the sixth day so they could rest from work on the seventh.  As I taught, I sensed God’s Spirit urging me to trust Him with my time by working six days and resting on the seventh.  Reaching Exodus 20, I saw as if for the first time that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God.  Facing my students I sensed God asking me to obey this law that I had neglected.  Though my life’s pattern was obedience, I struggled with this.  Visions of unfinished lesson plans and ungraded papers haunted me.  How could I get everything done in six days when I couldn’t fit it into seven?  In the end I said yes.  I knew I had to trust that God knew best.

That first Friday evening as the Sabbath began I sat on my back deck watching the sun set.  I knew that the next twenty-four hours were holy, unlike any other day of the week.  God’s felt presence surrounded me as I read the Bible, prayed, and sat quietly in His presence.  On that day and every Sabbath since, I find delight in God.  He reminds me that my value comes not from doing more, but from simply being His child.  Each Sabbath I delight in a God who provides one day in seven for me to refocus and spend time with Him.

Some time after I began keeping the Sabbath I happened upon Isaiah 58.  Verses 13-14 say, “If thou . . . call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord . . . then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”

When I obeyed God’s urging to take the Sabbath seriously I had no idea that through my obedience He would answer my prayer and the cry of my heart.

God is true to His word.  I silently prayed for the woman’s request, knowing God would answer.  Just as He delights in us, He desires our delight be in Him.