Monday, June 20, 2011

Revisiting "Delight"

One evening last week, Allen and I returned from a brief outing at the same time as our neighbor returned from work. We exchanged greetings and let him know we'd referred a family member to his business. Then he asked if we wanted to see his toddler, "Olivia," who was in the truck, too. Of course, we did.

We stepped across to their driveway while he lifted her out and set her down. As she found her balance, he said, "Livvy, do you want to say hi to Allen and Christina?"

She sized us up and then focused on me, down on one knee, and began trotting toward us. Given the slope of the driveway, she picked up speed along the way until finally throwing herself into my arms.

"What a good hug, Livvy. Did you have a good day at school today?"


"Actually, she went to her grandma's today," her dad amended.

I relaxed my arms, but she was still holding fast, so I relaxed into the moment instead, stroking her back and memorizing the vaguely fruity scent of her tousled curls. What's that feeling tugging at the corners of my mouth? Oh, yes, I remember. It's delight.

"What did you do at grandma's? Did you dance? I know what a good dancer you are."


"What else...did you take a nap for grandma?"

"Nap," she nodded.

"Did outside? Kind of hot for that, though."

"Pay outside."

"Are you really answering my questions, or are you parroting everything I say?"

"Pehting ehveeting you say." (Somebody give that girl a rim shot.)

She kept hugging my neck a few minutes longer, then sat on the drive and on my lap while her dad talked with us about the city's basketball celebration. After high fives all around, she decided to swing, and her dad decided it was time to go inside where her mother was waiting. The spell was broken.

This small person gave me the gift of a few minutes of concentrated, spontaneous affection, and with it came joy. I had no candy or presents to offer her; she was not, as far as I know, trying to escape an unpleasant chore; she wasn't even sad and seeking comfort. She simply wanted to give and receive love.

How did I respond? I didn't push her away, saying, "Livvy, this is not the time. Can't you see those weeds around the live oak? Get to work." Her affection pleased me to receive as much as it pleased her, evidently, to give.

In my mind's ear afterward, I heard the word of the Lord saying, "If you, then, being evil... how much more your Father in heaven...?"

Can it be that my heavenly Father, just like my earthly one, doesn't care as much about my lists of duties and reading and prayer requests and getting stuff done as I do? as He does my spending time with Him, in His Word, prayer, and worship, without an agenda, but just for the pleasure of each other's company? Can it be that the God of the universe even takes pleasure in my company? Can it be that the commands to learn and keep His Word and to pray are not only good for me in an eat-your-vegetables kind of way but as a means of being close to each other?

Apparently so:
The LORD your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will bring [you] quietness with His love.
He will delight in you with shouts of joy (Zeph. 3:17, HCSB).
He brought me out to a wide-open place; He rescued me because He delighted in me (Ps. 18:19, HCSB).
You will be a glorious crown in the LORD's hand,and a royal diadem in the palm of your God.You will no longer be called Deserted,and your land will not be called Desolate;instead, you will be called My Delight is in Her,and your land Married;for the LORD delights in you,and your land will be married (Isaiah 62:3-5, HCSB).
Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23, HCSB). 
If you are a child of God through Christ, beloved, your Father delights in you; He delights in me. Let me say that again, in case you missed it the first time:

Your Father delights in you.

This week I personally need to revisit the practice of delight and celebration and reorient my practice of spiritual disciplines (which are primary means of experiencing His love and delight) around the starting principle that He loves me and wants me more than my agenda, even if it's an agenda I thought I'd received from Him.

May the Lord grant us grace this week to rest, even if only for minutes stolen from pressing responsibilities, in His loving embrace. May His delight in us strengthen and sustain all our obedience by adorning it with joy.

Thank You, Father, for
~Your delight and love for this first-class sinner
~sugar-and-spice hugs
~an optimistic report from the sinus doctor that a second surgery may not be needed
~one dawn making a grand entrance, complete with pink feather boa clouds

~lovely, affirming reader comments and mail
~learning from you all and the insights God gives you
~broken hearts with the courage to reach out
~the Lord's grace in blessing broken, fragmented lives offered to Him and in using that very brokenness to nourish others.
~a surprising encouragement that God is working through this blog
~a friend bringing her infant son to meet me and for us (the mom and me) to catch up
~yummy summer salads for lunch with Mom
~Mom bringing a load of groceries so I wouldn't be tempted to go myself
~two of the lowest pain days this week since this flare started
~some high pain mornings, too
~the little red rose blooming out a bit

~prayers not granted: "Did God sometimes not withhold in mercy what we ask, we should be ruined at our own request" (Hannah More, via
~husband's working weekends (see preceding item)
~grace to thank You for things when I can't see the blessing in them yet
~freedom to stay indoors
~in air conditioning in nearly a week of consecutive 100F days
~celebrating with my dad on Father's Day
~husband to lean on in unexpectedly difficult church service
(from the gratitude list, #527-548)


  1. What a precious story and time with that little girl. Yes, delight. Saying a prayer for your protection from pain--or God's provision in the midst of it if He sees it for your best.

  2. @Amy Thank you for the gift of your prayers. The pain is SO much better than it was, but we are still waiting for "pain-free." God bless you and yours in whatever this almost-summer day holds.

  3. first of all, your story – I think there were two gifts that day – one the child to you – the other you to yourself – you allowed the joy to happen. And from your thank you list – the last one – about leaning on your hubs – that makes me smile because that's what marriage is supposed to be. What's not to heart about this post? God bless and keep you and all of yours this day. thank you for this :-)

  4. @Craig Craig, thank you for sharing your perspective. May God keep you mindful of His delight in you today.

  5. Some of my favorite verses. So hard to grasp that God delights in us...but wonderful to know it is true.

  6. lots to think about, and to try to live!

    i was struck by the way, in your story about Livvy, delight was reciprocal, and also "multi-levelled". you delighted in Livvy. as evidenced by the way she threw herself into your arms, she delighted in you. you in turn delighted in her delighting in you, just as, I'm sure, she delighted in your delighting in her.

    that's how it is in a good marriage, too: the spouses delight in each other, and also in each other's delight in each other. a marriage in which one one or both partners were primarily focused on a (conjugal) "list of duties", or on "getting [conjugal] stuff done" would be sadly impoverished.

    and it should be the same with us and God. God delights in us, and He wants us to delight in Him and in His delight in us, thus giving Him more to delight in.(What better way to express gratitude to God for delighting in us than to give Him more to delight in?) Just as we cannot do that, if we are exclusively or excessively focused on our own shortcomings, we cannot do that, if we are too focused on "lists of duties" and "getting stuff done". (Perhaps the story of Mary and Martha is a warning against excessive focus on duties, at the expense of responding to God's delight in us with our delight in Him).

    hope this wasn't too abstract! i'm so glad to hear you've had less pain lately, and, like Amy, i'm praying that God will protect you from further pain, or work it for your good...

  7. @ Stefanie - Some of my favorites, too. Yes, it is hard to grasp.

    @chris - I agree with your thoughts about the multi-leveled and reciprocal nature of delight in healthy relationships.

    Your comments also provide much to think about.

    Thank you very much for your prayers. My next rheumatologist (lupus doc) appointment is at the end of the week, so I will try to give an update after that. Overall, things are much better than they were, and for that I'm grateful.


Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.