Devotion is one character trait which really cannot be "seen" in the way we dress, what we drive, or the things we amass. In fact, it is "seen" more in the people we hang around with, the way we spend our time, and the attitude of heart which is exhibited in the actions we take toward others. If you really stop to consider it, devotion is just a synonym of love. Devotion is evident in where we find our foundation for life, who it is we emulate in our actions, and what it is we commit to without wavering. Devotion also determines our delight - there is very little in which we take delight that does not first begin with an appeal to our hearts. Devotion then is linked with determination - for what we come to value we develop a strong determination to obtain and make out own.
But he knows where I am and what I’ve done. He can cross-examine me all he wants, and I’ll pass the test with honors. I’ve followed him closely, my feet in his footprints, not once swerving from his way. I’ve obeyed every word he’s spoken, and not just obeyed his advice—I’ve treasured it. (Job 23:10-12 MSG)
So, our "D" List of character traits are really threefold: Devotion, Delight, and Determination. For some, the word devotion conjures up the idea of profound dedication. This is not far off the mark of what I think God has in mind when he looks for this trait in us - he searches for even a small hint of us being willing to align with his heart. When he sees this tiny bud of devotion, he begins to nurture it until it becomes a fully adorned "tree" of dedication - anchored with three strongly attached roots of commitment, allegiance, and loyalty.
When our roots are solid, the growth produced and the ability to withstand the various influences which seek to uproot us are evident. If we "align" ourselves within "good soil", the chances of giving into every wind of change which comes across our lives is a little less likely. Instead, we will remain securely rooted in that which gives us "grounding". Yet, even a tree firmly rooted will begin to grow "toward" the most influential "winds" in their life. This is where we need the "winds of devotion" to blow stronger than any other wind which might seek to change the course of our growth.
As I travel, I have the delight of taking in much scenery. One thing which consistently catches my attention is the way trees grow in various regions. As I traveled near the beaches of Torrey Pines near San Diego, California, I noticed these "spindly" looking pines, almost "lopsided" in their growth. You see, they were affected by the strong winds which came off the ocean, directing their growth inward toward the land and almost making them devoid of growth on the side which faced the ocean. I have also observed this in some regions where strong winds have blown the birch trees, such as in Birch Bay, Washington. The birch are tall and straight, but devoid of limbs on one side of the tree. Why is it these two different trees grew this way? They gave into the "prevailing" winds in their lives.
Devotion occurs when we determine which "wind" we will accept as "prevailing" in our lives. We can give into the winds of the times, or even the winds of circumstance. Yet, nothing makes us grow as strong, tall, and "equally balanced" as the gentle breezes of the Holy Spirit in our lives! When we are determined to grow, not toward the "loudest" winds, but toward the gentle breath of God, we have a much more balanced growth!
As a tree takes root, the promised growth is dependent upon what care it receives in its "growth cycle". This is where delight comes into view - for it is the heart of God that each of us "delight" in the tender care of his watchful "gardening" of our lives. We need those withered "branches" lopped off - for they only take up space, hindering other growth from appearing. We need the soil "turned over" on occasion, because we only get new growth when the soil of our hearts find new "oxygenation" on occasion! Delight is an off-shoot of our determination and our devotion. I guess you sum all three of these into one word - desire!
Job said it well, "I have not just obeyed his advice - I've enjoyed it!" Why? Simply put - he has made a determination to make God his primary desire! He delights in the counsel of God - determined to have it affect his course. He has devoted himself to God's plans - no matter how difficult they may seem at the moment (and heaven knows Job faced many a tough blow in life). He makes no attempt to remove himself from being aligned with God's best - no matter how much it appears on the outside as though "all hell is breaking loose". He is devoted, determined, and he takes great delight in the things and choices which please the one he has the greatest desire to please - not himself, not his peers, but God! Now, that is something which "tickles" the heart of God! Just sayin!