Good evening, Toccoa First family. It’s Monday, March 30. Welcome back to this series of devotional podcasts.
I was reminiscing recently, as I often do, about my experience in elementary school. And I thought of my experience in first grade with our school librarian… Of course I couldn’t say “library” back then; I said “li-berry”… Anyway, I wasn’t exactly the best-behaved student in first grade, and the librarian was often correcting my behavior. But before she said any words of criticism or correction, she would always say, “I love you, but…” And she would say it in this sing-songy tone of voice. “I love you, but…” And she said that to all my classmates in the exact same tone…
And look, I’m sure that there was some good psychology behind her saying that… It’s just that she said said it so often and so automatically… She seemed like a robot… It seemed less than sincere. It seemed like she was saying it just because she was supposed to be saying it.
I wanted to say, “Do you love me for any particular reason, or is it just because you have to?”
And we may wonder, “Is God’s love for us like that?” I mean, of course God loves us… His very nature is love, as the apostle John tells us. And if we’ve been born-again through faith in Christ, God promises to give us eternal life, and that gift won’t be taken away from us. So… is God stuck with us in some way—whether he likes it or not?
Or perhaps another way of putting is this: We know God loves us, but does he like us? Does he want to be with us… or is he stuck with us?”
Well… When I’m tempted to feel troubled by thoughts such as these, I turn to God’s Word. Because remember: our feelings, while important, they often deceive us; they often lie to us. And when they do, we need to lean on the rock solid promises of scripture. Here are some verses that have helped me, and maybe they’ll help you, too:
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 (NLT)
“[B]ut the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Psalm 147:11
“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4
Remember: If we’re in Christ, that means we are a part of God’s people! So these verses are about us. And remember the angel’s words to the shepherd on the first Christmas night: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14. If we’re Christians, we are those people with whom God is pleased.
Not to mention, by the way, the entire Song of Solomon, in the Bible. Yes, on one level that book is a love poem between husband and wife. But the church has always read it on a figurative level as well—as the relationship between God and his people, including you and me. God loves us with the strongest of emotions!
My point is, to talk about God’s “delighting in us,” “taking pleasure in us,” or “being pleased with us” means that God enjoys us… he enjoys being with us. God wants to be with us! He wants to spend eternity with us. We make him happy. We can do things for God that please him, right now, that give God pleasure. If we’re in Christ it’s no exaggeration to say that, yes, God likes us!
Besides, here’s another way to look at it: You don’t have to exist at all. God didn’t have to make you. But he made you and is making you who you are and are becoming… because he wants you to be that person! He delights in you! If he wanted you to be someone else he would have made you someone else!
So I hope that’s an encouragement for you as you pray, for example, or have a quiet time. Tell yourself, “God wants to spend time with me while I pray and read his Word.” Or as your performing some act of Christian service, tell yourself: “God isn’t standing over me, saying, ‘That’s the least you can do! Hurry up! Get it done!’” No… by doing this, I have the opportunity to please God, to make God happy.