Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The theology of delight

I learned something recently. God likes me.

That may sound a tad silly or sacrilegious, especially for someone like me who comes from the Reformed school of Christianity where God is so utterly holy and not to be trifled with.

While that is certainly true, listening to Dr. Charles Stanley this week has given me a understanding of God that I had heard before but had never sunk in. The word he uses is "delight." He was, of course, speaking specifically of "[delighting] in the LORD" (Psalm 37:4), but after some thought I realized that it goes the other way as well.

To get a sense of it, I went back to my relationships with a number of friends -- primarily female, of course -- whose company I enjoy. Simply put, whenever I see or hear from them I "light up" -- a hug, phone call or e-mail from any of them will completely make my day. In the fall a friend whom I spent a lot of time with in 2004 and 2005 but whom I had not seen or heard from in months unexpectedly showed up in church, hoping to run into me; we spent that afternoon at a harvest festival. Two years earlier while attending another fall festival, she was admiring some roses that had been carved out of balsa wood. I asked her, "Do you want one?"

I didn't buy her that rose because I wanted anything in return; I simply was willing to pay for the privilege of her presence. It's something she naturally brings out of me.

I think that's what the Scripture means when it says, in too many places to mention here, to "delight in the LORD" -- yes, He wants (and is owed) our worship but also to be enjoyed as well. And when you have that type of relationship, serving Him becomes not a chore but an honor. Indeed, a story I heard from a former coworker who is an Orthodox Jew gave the impression that the person involved was excited over a potential opportunity to obey God.

But you can't delight in the LORD unless you've experienced that yourself, and in fact He first demonstrates His delight in us. Zephaniah 3:17 reads as follows: "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." John Eldredge, in "The Way of the Wild Heart," says that God seemed to be "in love" with him; while I think it overstates the case (I'm certainly not in love with my friends), there's an energy you receive when you know someone likes you.

Two jazz tunes come to mind: "Pure Delight" by guitarist Larry Carlton and "You Make Me Smile" by saxophonist Dave Koz. They remind me not so much how I should feel about God but how He feels about me.

1 comment:

Elaine Miller said...

Makes me smile realizing that God also delights in me. Especially when I delight in Him. BTW, Delight is my word for 2015.
Elaine W. Miller