I mentioned in my Saturday post The Making of Joy that I am reading Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. The quote I referred to God’s joy is to love us, has revolved in my mind ever since and along with it The joy of the Lord is my strength (Psalm 5:11). I know that God wants me to live in joy and peace but for some reason the fact that God too lives in joy has escaped me. And that it is God’s joy, not my joy that gives me strength is earth shattering for me. I grow strong not because I am joyful but because who I am and what I do gives God joy.
This distinction is important for us. I just googled for images of the “laughing Christ” – there are only three paintings that I was shown. We tend to see God as a stern and unapproachable entity, one who is more likely to frown then to smile, more likely to criticize then express joy. Yet I think God is a joyful God, weighed down by the brokenness of our world, yes, but One who radiates joy inherently finding delight and fulfillment in all creation. “It is good” says God at the end of the creation story, a wonderful exclamation of joy, fulfillment and delight. That is who God is and who God intends us to be.
So what gives God joy? First as Greg Boyle says, God’s joy is grounded in the wonder of divine love for us. Just as a parent finds joy in their child because of the deep and abiding love they have for their child, so God loves us. And this love bond is something that can never be broken. Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God and the joy that God takes in looking on us as children.
Now don’t get me wrong, God does not delight in our brokenness or our sinfulness, but as every parent who has ever loved a straying child knows, the ache of love is always there ready to welcome and to embrace. The return of any prodigal child brings great joy to the heart of God. God does not delight in our suffering either, but I think that God does find joy in the ways that we use that suffering to deepen our faith and draw us closer to Christ.
There are other things too that I think God delights in. I think that creation itself gives God joy. If you have ever hiked above 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) you know the wonder of discovering wildflowers that only God usually sees and the awe of magnificent vistas only God delights in. Even just walking out in my garden admiring the plants, the flowers and the insects gives me a glimpse into the joy that God finds in all of creation.
God also delights in our commitment to the divine purposes. Whenever and wherever we commit ourselves to God’s dream for a world renewed, restored and made whole that too brings joy to the heart of God.
First our commitment to renewal in our own lives is a delight to our loving God. Every step we take along the journey towards wholeness I am sure brings joy and rejoicing to the heart of God. Every time we take a moment to acknowledge and draw close to the heart of God we bring God delight. Every time we express gratitude and thankfulness for the wonder of God’s gift of life and love we bring God delight.
Second our commitment to renewal in the lives of others through acts of justice, healing, sharing and compassion all delight the heart of our justice seeking, wholeness creating, generous God. God delights in the wholeness and completion of all human kind.
Third, our commitment to restoration of creation through our preservation and renewal efforts brings God joy. I think that destruction and pollution of God’s good earth grieves the heart of God more then we will ever realize. Our efforts to prevent and reverse this bring delight and joy to God’s heart.
So what do you plan to do this day, this season to bring delight and joy to the heart of God?