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. – Zephaniah 3:17
I’m in the middle of a long-awaited visit from my son and his family. Long-awaited, because we don’t live in the same state, and also because the pandemic kept us apart for a big chunk of the last year and a half.
I have noticed a little difference in my older grandson, Parker, who is ten years old now, but there’s no doubt he’s the same kid I spent a week with five years ago.
His mother was recovering from the birth of his new baby brother, Kaplan. The whole family was adjusting to the new dynamics, transitioning from a family of three to a family of four, and my job was to make sure Parker still felt important and didn’t get bored. He got my undivided attention for most of the week, as we baked “Nana muffins,” did crafts, dug in a block of clay for dinosaur bones and assembled them into a stegosaurus, built “the most awesome Hot Wheels track ever!” using books as ramps and couch cushions as tunnels, and discovered all the great properties of balloons, including the fact that if you rubbed them on the carpet you could stick them all over the wall and they’d stay. We read books, went grocery shopping together, and colored pictures to welcome the new baby.
Today Parker is still an energetic, critter-loving guy, bursting with enthusiasm, whatever the activity.
Kaplan, now five, has changed more than Parker has, at least in regards to “Nana.” He was pleasantly playful during our last few visits, which were too short and far apart for us to do much bonding. But this time I can tell something has changed.
A day or two after the family arrived, everyone except “Nana” went to the beach. I stayed home and packed sandwiches and snacks, walked the dog, answered some emails, and then went to join them.
As I started down the steep steps to the beach, a little voice cried out, “NANA!!! – Hey Beepaw! Nana’s here!” I can’t remember when I was last greeted with that much enthusiasm – by someone who not only was happy to see me, but was also eager to share the good tidings – “Nana’s here!” To say my heart was warmed would not do justice to that moment.
The next morning when I emerged from the bedroom and walked into the living room, I found most of the family hanging out on the chairs and couches, engaged on their devices. I said “Good morning,” answered by preoccupied grunts from most of the clan. But Kaplan looked up from what he was doing, and his little face lit up with joy.
“NANA!” he squealed again, jumping up and trying to get to me for a hug. “Beepaw’s” legs were blocking the way.
“Move your feet!” I barked. – I wanted that hug! Kaplan managed to squeeze through and when he reached me, he gave me the biggest, happiest hug. Patting my back, he said, “How ya doin’?”
It amazes me how someone so much smaller than I am, who isn’t strong or educated or savvy or rich or impressive as far as the world is concerned, can light up my day in a split second, delight my soul, and make my heart feel as if it will burst with joy. It makes me think of something I consider and pray about every day.
Have you ever wondered what in the world you could give to God? He is the Creator of the world. He knows everything, He owns everything, He has power over everything. He is forever and infinite; we are finite. I think of my own sinfulness, my inadequacies, my blunders. Then I think of what Jesus went through for me. The only One who didn’t deserve to suffer, who didn’t have to do anything He didn’t want to, willingly died on the cross to pay for my sins, so that I could be forgiven and be welcomed into His family as His child.
After Jesus did all that for me, today I want to make Him happy! I don’t want Him to suffer any more for me, or even just tolerate me, I want to make Him smile! I want Him to laugh with pleasure! I don’t want to be a child that frustrates Him or grieves Him or embarrasses Him, I want to be the child He delights in.
So how do I do that? Today I took some “divine perspective” from Kaplan. What gives Nana pleasure just might be what gives our heavenly Father pleasure, too.
When I spend time in prayer or Bible reading or worship, do I do it with joyful anticipation of Jesus’ showing up? Do I delight in His presence and want to run into His arms? Do I joyfully share with others that “He’s real! He’s here! He loves us!”? Could it be that we have the power to make the Lord happy – that if we delight in Him, He delights in us?
We study the Word of God to understand Who He is and what He’s done, to know truth, and to get our theology right, and this is very important. But in our searching for knowledge let’s not forget to take time simply to delight in the One we’re studying. We can never know all He knows, we can never give a fraction of what He gives, we can never outwork Him. But as His beloved children, we can still make Him smile, maybe even laugh with pleasure, when we take pleasure in Him.
Prayer: Jesus, You suffered so much for us, and it grieves us that our sin caused You so much pain. Today we want to cause You to rejoice, to smile, to laugh with pleasure. Help us to give back to You the joy You give us. We want to be the children You delight in, nothing less. In Jesus’ name, amen.