God Wants You To Know His Pleasure In You

When my three brothers and I were little, we would get so excited when Mom or Dad would stop what they were doing to watch our latest “feat.” Like what? you may ask. Oh, amazing things like a basketball shot we finally mastered, tricks off the diving board, a dance move, a bike trick . . . The thing was we often didn’t get it right the first, second, or third time we tried for them. So, more than once, we’d ask (or plead), “Wait; can I start over?! . . . “Hold on; let me try again! . . . I’ll get it right this time!”

Whatever our final performance looked like, their facial expression, words, or clapping showed us their delight. Looking back, I don’t think their delight was mainly about what we were doing. We knew their pleasure for who we are to them.  When our children were little, they called us to watch them, too. Whatever they presented was fun to see, but mostly we enjoyed them and our relationship.

God enjoys you and me. He takes pleasure in us because we are His. Do you know the experience of enjoying God’s pleasure in you?

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149.4)

I lived a lot of years thinking that God’s pleasure was earned according to my performance. (You can read more on this theme in my book, Becoming A Peaceful Mom.) God takes pleasure in us simply because He made us.  We can experience His pleasure through relationship with him, even as we struggle through our ugly stuff, weaknesses, and times when we’re distant from Him.

Relationship with God is not a daily performance—to say or do something right. God is not watching for how we perform, to only then express His pleasure if we behave well.

Relationship with God is a daily partnership of the heart. He is always very near to us. We can decide daily to draw near to Him–or not. When we make time to read God’s Word, we demonstrate that we want to know Him, and He instills understanding for how committed He is to relationship with us. When we pray—praise, confess, thank, ask, listen—we partner with God. We practice depending on Him and experience how dependable He is.

The more we know God and spend time with Him, the fact of His pleasure in us captures our heart as real and true—and awe for such grace overwhelms. He knows we’ll mess up, and He forgives us. We practice heart partnership, one hour at a time. Through each right-step, misstep, humility step, and faith-step, God shapes, loves, and reveals His pleasure in us.

Thank you, God, that I am not a human project for your evaluation. Help me grasp Your tender love and pleasure in me and enjoy our relationship, which you created me for. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our First Love

I spent some time with my mom recently. (She lives a few hours away.) She has Alzheimer’s. As I approached her, the caregiver leaned toward her and asked, “Do you know who that is?” One more time I was blessed with her frail words, “It’s Teresa.”  And I whisper thanks to God.

At some point in our visits, I scoot my chair close to her wheelchair, wrap my arms around her and rest my head on her shoulder. Sometimes she brings her hand up to mine, and I feel like she’s holding me. I know that doesn’t make sense . . . Her touch simply represents the strength of her love over the years.

When I arrive and before I leave, I turn her chair to face me, look into her eyes, smile, and tell her how much I love her. Each time, I feel like I’m held in the moment, as I look into her blue eyes. Her words are few these days, but she still speaks love through those eyes. She always has.

A little over a year ago, a traumatic incident almost took Mom’s life. As a result, she was hospitalized, non-communicative, and only briefly opened her eyes to then sleep again. One night while I sat with her, she began to murmur, so I put my ear near her mouth. She never opened her eyes, but her words became clearer as she repeated this prayer over and over again, “Jesus make thou my heart humble; Make it humble unto thine.”

Jesus is always with us. Our prayers respond to His presence.

As much as I wanted to help her, I was comforted to realize she was being held by the One she needs.

Hard stuff is woven into the fabric of Mom’s life—just as it threads through yours and mine.  God was her Go-To and her First Love . . . and I trust Him, that He still is. Often she would say, “I know God must be tired of hearing from me.” Her words spoke instruction and inspiration.

Our First Love is the One who first loved us.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4.19)

Our primary go-to is the one we trust most, the one whose love we believe above all others.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.19)  In all that we ask for, God first gives our truest need—Himself.

As we spend more time with the One who first loved us, He grows us aware of His love for us. He becomes the one whose love we depend on, the one we trust above all others. Our First Love becomes our primarily Go-To.

Dear God,
May the truth of your Word—that you first loved us—permeate our heart, this day. Thank you that you loved me long before I was even born. Your love for us never changes. No one can love us like you. Help us draw nearer to know you as our First Love, our greatest love. Amen.

The Power of Comfort

When someone we care about hurts or struggles, we want to be a source of comfort. We offer words, hugs, our presence. And we pray. Our thoughtful gestures matter and certainly impact, yet when we pray, we rehearse our trust that God is with this person. We express the depths of how we desire Him to help them, and as we do we believe that He can do far more than what we ask or imagine.

Dear God, I lift my friend/ my child/ my co-worker to you. Please comfort them. Cover and fill those places that only you can fully comfort. Amen.

God hears our simple words and sees the truest version of the yearning in our heart—our inmost thoughts that we have not yet whispered. He delights that we trust Him to provide perfect comfort. He comforts them—and He comforts our concerned heart.

So, what about when you are the one who aches?

Do you ever forget that you are a child, God’s beloved daughter, his little girl? Sometimes I live like I’ve forgotten. When hard stuff happens, I ask for God’s help to persevere or to be strong. It usually takes me a while to remember, I need the comfort of my Abba’s loving arms right now. I need to be still and be held.

“For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” (Isaiah 51.3)

Fun, encouragement, rest, inspiration fill some of our days. Then another day, week, or season ushers in sadness, discouragement, exhaustion, overwhelm. Relationship tension or heartache, illness, financial crisis, work stress, and decision anxiety stir angst. Hard experiences can strip the part of us that was content.

God is with us—Immanuel. He is Comfort and covers our waste places and wilderness—those spaces of hurt, loss, confusion, and fear. Even though our hard circumstances may remain, God’s comfort soaks our soul that we may rest, secure and peaceful in Him.

“I, I am he who comforts you.”  (Isaiah 51.12a)

Thank you, O God, that you comfort us, even when we don’t ask. Help us come to you and learn to be still with you for soaking comfort. Thank you that though challenging times come, you will make our wilderness like Eden and our desert like the garden of the LORD. Amen.