In conclusion, my children, take delight in your heavenly Father. Philippians 3:1, paraphrase (the Apostle Paul writing)
I once had a girlfriend who loved to go to the park and swing on the swings. As a sophisticated young college student, I always felt a little foolish doing this.
But young men will humiliate themselves to win the affections of young women. We swung on the swings together mostly at night, when no one could see us. And when my girlfriend was soaring high in the air, the look of delight on her face was priceless.
When children grow up to be adults, they often leave delight behind. We sweat and strain under the weight of responsibilities. We frown. We groan. We forget how to giggle. We become curmudgeons.
The church is packed full of sour, hunched-over curmudgeons. I ought to know I'm one of them.
And quite frankly, there is much to be dour about. Iraq. Islamofascism. Climate change. Gas prices. Israel. Hillary. Polar bears drowning in the Arctic. Termites eating my house.
Who in their right mind would suggest that delight is an appropriate adult response to such things?
After Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, thrown in prison and chained to prevent their escape, Acts 16:25 says they spent the night praying and singing hymns together while the other prisoners listened amazed, I'm sure.
Paul seems to have figured out how to take delight in God, even in the worst of circumstances.
When asked about the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus said, "Love the Father with every ounce of your heart and strength." (Matthew 22:37). Delight is the fruit of love: God's love for us, and our reciprocal love for God.
In other words, life is a scale. Heaped high on one side are all of the challenges and terrors we deal with daily. Standing on the other side is God. His love is like a miracle drug. His promises are true. His faithfulness is unshakeable. He lifts our hearts when we're down. He lightens our burdens. He delights, even in the darkness.
So, why does my life seem so delightless at times? Why do I become discouraged?
Perhaps it's a matter of focus.
When I take my focus off of loving God, knowing God, hearing God, trusting God, walking with God, my delight evaporates. If delight is the fruit of God's love, it can only grow when my heart and soul are fully rooted in God, when I am living intentionally so as to draw sustenance from God.
When times are hard, I lose that focus. Jesus himself knew this and challenged the people in the Sermon on the Mount to rejoice even when they were facing the most difficult circumstances. (Matthew 5:12). Why? Because our delight in the midst of chaos testifies more eloquently than words to our belief that there is more to it than this. There is a place where justice prevails, where peace reigns, where evil has been vanquished, where love is unfettered.
We rejoice because God lives, his Word is true and he is at work redeeming the lives of men and women, including you, including me.
If I take delight in my heavenly Father, it is not an act of blind denial of the dark realities of the world around me. Rather, it is a statement of faith in the greater reality of God's redeeming presence in my life and in the daily events of the world I live in. Delight suggests confidence in God's sovereignty, in God's goodness.
Today, I will take delight in the Lord.
Photo Credit: "Autumn Delight" by De Hui Wang