They say a smile can make someone's day. What makes God smile at me? What makes him nod his head and say "Yes, my girl, that's what I'm talking about!"?
Because I really want to know. And then I want to make sure I do it, day after day.
I'm not talking about what makes God love me, because that is a different question with a different answer - nothing. Nothing I do makes God love me. His love for me was already a done deal before I ever drew my first breath of air. I can't earn it, I can't explain it, I can't get beyond the reaches of it. I can ignore it, turn my back on it, doubt or disbelieve it (and I have done some of these) but I can't bring it to an end. The love the Father has for me in Jesus is wide and long and high and deep.
But next to being relentlessly loved by God, I can't think of anything greater than truly delighting him.
"...the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:11
We are told right before this verse what doesn't bring God pleasure, and it is worth noting considering that it's probably what fills up most of our calendar and consumes much of our thoughts - our performance. Our strengths. Our ability to get things done and get them done well. Now, our abilities and strengths are good things - gifts given to us by God that are meant to be used and used well. But they are not what God delights in when he looks at us.
God delights in a heart that bows low in awe of all he is while standing strong in the certainty of his love.
Reverence, awe and honor have almost become rare antique finds in our self-focused, selfie-obsessed world. But you know what starts getting a little cramped for space when our hearts, and sometimes our bodies, kneel down in reverence before the One who holds both this universe and our frail lives together? Pride. Arrogance. Self-importance. Suddenly, there's just not as much room for them anymore in a heart that has been filled with speechless awe over the goodness and greatness of God. We know who he is and who we are not:
Forgiver of sins. Defender of the weak. Architect of the galaxies. Sustainer of all life. Defeater of death. Prince of peace. Righteous Judge. Compassionate Father. Redeemer of broken lives. King over all kings. Healer. The One who sets the prisoners free. The Way, the Truth and the Life. The Good Shepherd. The Word in flesh. Savior. The Beginning and the End.
Oh, and fear of man - that one has a hard time sticking around too. When we live in a holy fear of God, fear of anything else this world throws at us begins to lose its grip on our souls. Fear of God is a reverent, holy awe that fills our hearts as we fix our eyes on his matchless majesty and might. We live and think differently because of it. Fear of man takes up residence in our hearts and minds only to cripple and confine us. We live and think differently because of it as well.
Perhaps the reason God takes such delight in those who fear him is because he knows it is a fear that sets us free.
And then there is hope.
When we don't have any, we might still be walking around and breathing, but inside we feel like we are dying. Hope keeps you going. It gets you through. When you've been knocked down for the hundredth time, hope is what makes you decide to get up again. It keeps you in the fight even when it looks like you are losing.
The love God has for each of us never fails. It doesn't run out or wear thin. It is strong enough to cover over all our sins and failures. And it is completely worthy of holding all our hope.
People will let you down. It's inevitable. You will let yourself down. That's inevitable too. Wealth can disappear, friends can change, your path can take an unexpected turn that leaves you stumbling around in a dark cloud of uncertainty, trying to catch your breath. In a world where nothing stays the same forever, there is one thing that does: God's love for YOU. You can take it to the bank, you can put all your eggs in this basket - God's unfailing love for you shapes his every action towards you.
And when we begin to believe that, when we choose to tie our hope to his love for us even when the waves are high and there's no land in sight - something happens. We experience a freedom and a peace we can't find any other way. And when that happens, God smiles. He delights in us. We bring him joy. Because we have chosen to trust his heart even when we can't see his hand.
You may or may not "have it all together" today, but that's not what matters. To those who bow low before him and stand strong in him, your Father looks at you and smiles. And that's one smile that always makes my day.
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