My girls love the story of Rapunzel told through the Disney movie Tangled. We have watched it dozens of times. To be honest, I kinda like it too. One of our favorite scenes in the movie comes when Flynn Rider, the petty thief turned hero, in his attempts to scare Rapunzel back to her tower takes her to the Snuggly Duckling tavern. In this scene, filled with an assortment of hardened criminals, Rapunzel shares her dreams of seeing the “glowing lights” that fill the sky every year on her birthday. This leads to a song and dance routine featuring all of these characters declaring they have dreams too.
The comedy comes in their declaration of these dreams. Here you have some of the toughest, meanest, scariest criminals in the world declaring their dreams of being a concert pianist, to another’s desire to fall in love, to Tor’s desire to quit and become a florist, Gunther’s desire to do interior design, Ulf’s dream of doing mime, Attila’s love for baking, Bruiser’s knitting, Killer’s sewing, Fang’s puppet shows, and finally Vladimir’s collection of ceramic unicorns.
It’s a hilarious scene, but ultimately it points out a truth that all of us experience. No matter who we are, what we’ve done, or where we find ourselves, we all have dreams and desires deep within us that we want to pursue.
God’s Word speaks directly to this, and gives us direction on how to go about seeing our dreams and desires come true.
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 (NASB)
We all have dreams and aspirations. It doesn’t matter if you are deeply committed to following Jesus or if you are consumed with pursuing the ways of this sinful world, there is something inside you that leads to a pursuit of a goal. As in most things, there are two overarching ways we can pursue the fulfillment of our dreams; God’s way and man’s way.
Man’s way is self-reliant. God’s way is selflessly surrendered. Psalm 37 is David’s formula for seeing your dreams come true. Many read Psalm 37:4 and assume this is the proof-text for “name it, claim it” or “prosperity theology.” A mindset that says, “If you give your life to follow God, you can ask for whatever you want and God in a ‘genie-like’ way will grant your wish.”
This is NOT what David, nor the Lord intends for us to understand when we read this verse. I know this because of the first phrase of verse 4. “Delight yourself in the Lord…” Find your hopes, dreams, and aspirations coming from a deep personal delight in God. The “name it, claim it” and “prosperity gospel” people do not ultimately delight in the Lord. Their delight is founded on the things of this world. They delight in position, possession, and prosperity.
Those who truly delight themselves in the Lord, do so because He is delightful. His the all-powerful, sovereign God of creation who has shown us His great love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and perfectly holy character through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us His Word that we may know Him intimately. He has filled us through the Holy Spirit and granted us abundant life, sonship, purpose and meaning.
It is in this reality that followers of Jesus understand Psalm 37:4. We know these verses point us to a deeper delight in God Himself, not the things this world can offer. And we know as we discover this deeper delight leading to personal desire, it will be met by an inexhaustible God who is happy to reveal Himself to us who delight in Him.
So, while you may share Gunther’s affinity for interior design or Fang’s love of puppet shows, or any other of the countless possibilities you could pursue, ultimately, you’ll find a soul-satisfying fulfillment in your pursuit of these dreams when you pursue them to bring delight to the Lord. When you do this, indeed, He will give you the desires of your heart.
Rest in Jesus,