Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Father Who Delights

--
There are few things as toxic to a relationship as disapproval.

Husbands and wives, parents and children, pastors and congregations, employers and employees, teachers and students and among friends--disapproval does damage and leaves wounds that rarely heal on their own.  Stories abound of grown men and women who find themselves crippled in their adult lives because on some level, they are still trying to win the approval of fault-finding, never-satisfied parents, sometimes years, even decades after those parents have been laid to rest.

Spirits wither and waste under the harsh, hot glare of disapproval and I pray that as a fallible, imperfect parent, I would not fall into communicating in ways that feel like criticism and disapproval to my children.

Human disapproval is bad enough.  What about disapproval from God?  Isn't He always stern and endlessly disapproving, looking with disdain and disgust down a long nose and a longer finger, always pointing out our failure?

I hope you don't really believe that!!  I sure don't, but isn't that the way He's characterized by the world, and sadly sometimes by the church?

Even if we have studied Scripture and intellectually know better, sometimes we inherently cannot fathom His grace and fall into thinking these fearful things of Him.  Remember the wicked servant who was entrusted with one talent by his master?  Do you remember the reason he gave for burying the talent instead of investing it to multiply his master's money?
"‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man . . . So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’"  Matthew 25:24-25 NIV1984
The funny thing is, it was a complete mis-characterization and misunderstanding of the character of the master that led the servant to live in fear.  The master proved himself to be generous in delegating responsibility to those whom He trusted, quick to give credit where credit was due and honorable in rewarding the efforts of his servants.  He was not the "hard man" the servant accused him of being.  Despite the kind of man the master really was, the servant's projection onto his master of a mean-spirited, hard-hearted, disapproving character caused the servant to be like an intimidated athlete who plays to avoid losing instead of playing to win. It turned out to be an extremely costly mistake and his loss was incalculable.

Relationally speaking, delight is directly across the color wheel from disapproval.  Where disapproval leaves wounds, delight binds them up.  Where disapproval creates distance, delight invites closeness.  Where disapproval poisons communication, delight creates safety.  Just ask the two servants who received from their master the enthusiastic, " ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ " Matthew 25:23 ESV

"The LORD directs the steps of the godly. 
He delights in every detail of their lives."


Can we really believe that?  WILL we?
It's true.
He means it.
Yes, REALLY!


Like Hero Husband dancing with She So Sweet, the daughter he adores, our Heavenly Father dances with each of us.  It is with eyes warm and filled with delight that He looks at us, holding us close to His heart, proud of us and all He is making us to be.  We are His GOOD creations, and new creatures in the freedom won by Christ, His Son.  Jesus bore all our deserved disapproval from His Father and left in its place God's unbounded joy and delight in calling us His very own.

I know what you're thinking.  What about sin?  What about God's correction?  What about when I'm wrong and blowing it?

Even in His correction of us when we get out of step with Him, His heart's desire is only to resume the dance.  If we won't follow His lead, the joy in the dance is lost for both of us, so He corrects, shows us how to get back in time with Him and then whirls us around the dance floor, laughing and loving us right out loud.  His delighted Father's heart toward us never leaves!



"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."


Even when our behavior displeases Him, it is not because He disapproves of US, it's because He counts as enemy anything that we allow to get in the way of His best for us--unending, uninterrupted communion with Him.  THAT is a BIG difference.

And so, there are few things as nourishing to a relationship as delight.

God. Delights. In you!

Is it easy or hard for you to imagine God's delight in you?
What difference does it make to KNOW it's true?

If you have somehow found your way here and you have never met the Father God I write about and you would like to have this kind of relationship with Him, please don't hesitate to email me at fridaydreamer[at]fridaydreaming[dot]com, and I would be privileged to introduce you to the One who longs to delight in you!

________________________________

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Starting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!
JANUARY’S JOY DARE: 
#1025-1042

9. a gift in your hand--my Nikon D70 
    a gift you walked by--the now clean stairs I finally made it a point to vacuum 
    a gift you sat with--She So Sweet after school, hearing about her day, laughing
I O. a gift that’s sour--the lemon in my homemade hummus, so tart and tangy
       a gift that’s sweet--a gingery dinner
       a gift that’s Just. Right.--a golden retriever fetching a big stick and watching him roll in the grass for pure joy
I I . 3 yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy
      bowl full of bananas
      highlighter ink accenting my schoolwork
      She So Sweet in her lemon yellow sweater, lighting up the room before the sun wakes up
12. something above you--a bright white morning moon streaming through She So Sweet's window
       something below you--the four fancy wheels, leather comfort, seat warmer and great music in my rolling home-away-from home
       something beside you--My tripod
13. 3 sounds you hear
      Steel guitar
      Drummer Boy's music on my Ipod
      The resonance of Hero Husband's voice
14. 3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God
      Children we can trust
      Patience where I didn't expect to see it
      Being the object of God's delight

Better late than never I hope, Bonnie! =)
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