God’s Delight

He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.” (2 Samuel 22:20)

I know I’ve been on a “David kick” for awhile.  I can’t help it. His story is so compelling, so riveting and real.  David’s humanness jumps off the pages of my Bible and causes me to deal… deal with my giants, my running … my God.

And I think I’m drawn to him because David was a writer.  He fills his psalms with vivid images from battle and natural disaster … and joy.  But, I wonder, how much of this is literal?  Did David actually see the Lord “route the enemy” with lightning bolts like arrows?  Did he honestly witness the “valleys of the sea laid bare” at the “rebuke of the Lord”?  Was David really drowning when the Lord “reached down from on high, took hold of [him] and drew [him] out of the deep waters” (2 Sam. 22.15-17)?

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Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, after the years of running from his renegade, crown-usurping son, David must have felt relieved to be home in Jerusalem, secure from his enemies.  He finally had a place to rest; finally a place to retire his “looking over my shoulder, wondering what lies around the corner” instinct.

So, after all the trials and tragedy, here’s what David knows about this place, Jerusalem, this City of Shalom.

•  David knew it was the Lord’s doing that brought him here.  Everything David enjoyed was a movement of God on his behalf.  God’s strength, God’s victory, God’s help, God’s way… all led him here… to a spacious place of rest and provision.

•  David knew he was rescued.  He knew that he was completely dependent on God to act on his behalf… to draw him out of deep water, to support him when confronted by his enemies, to turn his darkness into light.  David is not passive, but he is dependent.  As one who is rescued, he knows his need.

•  David knew that he was the object of God’s delight.  He’s not God’s duty, not his project, not his anger, but God’s delight.  God’s laughter.  David knows he didn’t earn this position.  It was a gift, grace, unmerited favor.  God, in his joy, brought David to this place.

 

So here we are in a new place, Orlando, this city of Disney magic and palm trees.  Can I truly rest here?  Can I spread my arms, my concerns, my questions before the Lord and know his rescue and his delight?

With all the traffic and busyness, all the demands of school and grocery shopping and apartment living, I know I’ll experience the “spaciousness” metaphorically, not literally.  But, I do sense that this is what he wants to give us … space.

Many times, I think God’s direction would be easier to follow if he would literally lay the seas open bare and breath fire before me… scary, but easier.  Well maybe.  I want to know God’s intention in bringing us here.  I want to increase my dependence on him and experience his delight in me.  I think I will see those things through the eyes of faith.  Eyes that know the conviction of things hoped for and the assurance of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)

May I learn to see that way.

O Father, may we enter into the space you have provided, walk the path you’ve laid out before us.  Can you make it clear and well-lit?  But even if it’s not, we will trust you in the darkness.  

And Father, along the way, let us hear your laughter, the song of your delight.

To see you more clearly

“Who am I … There is no one like You…”

(2 Samuel 7:18 and 22)

 

I’ve been drawn to David’s story lately.  Not sure why.  I think I’m intrigued by David’s humanness, the bare “warts and all” honesty that composes the lines in God’s truth that are his.

So when David is confronted with the goodness of God, he is dumb-struck.  David’s prayer in response to God’s promise to make his family, his throne, and his name great is humility personified.

David simply receives.

He only has words of praise for God.  God is great.  God and his love and his choice are amazing.  What an honor to serve this great God; what a privilege.

At the same time, he knows that everything good that he or his family or Israel has is because of the blessing and favor of God.  David’s only request is that God would complete what he has already promised.

Maybe that should be the essence of all our prayers.

God you are amazing.  There is none like you.

Who am I that you should choose me,

know me,

bless me.

I am destitute without your favor.

I want to simply receive what you want to give me.

Since you have chosen me, I only ask that you would make good on your promise to love me and never leave me.

But, do I really believe that I am nothing, not-a-thing, without God’s favor?  I definitely know God’s blessing, but frankly I struggle to admit total dependence.  The truth of my need lies just on the other side of a cloudy window.  I see myself as capable and adequate to do what needs to be done much of the time.  And when the feelings of inadequacy creep in, I feel squirmy and I want to squash them, like a little bug that crawls up my leg and gives me the shivers.

Rarely does the cry, “I’m coming up short here!” drive me to my knees in prayer.  To my bed in self-pity, yes; to my knees in absolute surrender… sadly, no.

What would it be like to live with a daily awareness of my destitution without God’s favor?  Maybe the first step would be to gain a greater awareness of who He is… then my focus would be on him, not on me.

Okay, God.  You are good; you are great. In all of space and time, no one supersedes you.  You stand apart.

I am just a speck in history… a blot on the map… one of billions…  I see clearly now that I am nothing accept for the fact that you know you.  You see me.  You have called me by name and have claimed me as your daughter.  Amazing.

I have nothing to say except, “Thank you.  I need you. Don’t leave me.  I need your blessing to live this life you’ve called me to.”

 

Keep my eyes clear, so that I only see and never forget how much you’ve given, how much you’ve promised.

 

How great you are.

 

How great…

you are.

 

 

Do you know…

…you’re beautiful?  Do you know that you were put together with precision and care?  Do you know that the Creator of the Universe takes absolute delight in just thinking of you?

You wonder how I know.

I know because God saves the best for last.

At the beginning of time, when God started speaking this amazing world into existence, he pulled water molecules together and made “ocean” — teeming with manatees and clown fish and sea coral — he said, “It is good.”

 

 

And when he stretched out majestic Rocky Mountains, made towering Sequoias touch the sky, and painted the nuances of orange day lilies, he said, “It is good.”

 

 

 

And even when he launched Mars, Venus, Neptune, and Saturn into space and speckled the sky with stars and galaxies far beyond our comprehension, even then, he said, “It is good.”

But before he was finished, when God wanted to crown all the good things he had created, to add the piece de resistance, he reached down into soil and created human — the one God image-bearer.  He touched and moulded and pulled and shaped the first human body into existence.   Then, to add the spark, God breathed into human’s nostrils and oxygen filled lungs, blood flowed in veins, consciousness infused brain matter. (Gen. 2:7)

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Gen. 1:27, 31)

 

So from here you may still be wondering, “Ok, Julie, so God was pleased with the first man and woman he made.  But they messed up big time.  They rejected God’s plan and got entangled in sin.  And ever since then, men and women have been making a huge mess of this amazing world God made.  How does that make me beautiful?”

One question.  Of all that God created, which piece did he choose to rescue?  For which bit of creation did God choose to die?  To which segment did God offer eternal life? (Ok, so that was 3 questions.)

You.  He rescued you.  He died for you.  He offers real life to you.

So, that’s how I know you are beautiful.  Because the Creator of the grand canyons and lady bugs looked at you and said, “She’s worth it.  Yes, she’s made mistakes and she is sometimes a little selfish or impatient (ok, maybe more than “a little.”)  But she’s mine.  I don’t want to live without her.  I’m dying to have her near me.”

He didn’t do that for rocks and rivers, no matter how spectacular.

So, the next time the beauty of a sunrise takes your breath away.  Or the next time you are taken in by the intricate pattern of a butterfly’s wing, or enraptured by the nuzzle of puppy… remember.  In your Father’s eyes, nothing else in all of creation holds a candle to you.  Nothing.  He’s crazy about you.

He thinks you’re beautiful.

So you are.

Period.

 

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I’m learning the power of writing in community.  Check out this amazing post about diving in deep to face our fears from my new blogging friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee at Getting Down with Jesus.

 

Is God Near?

We’re entering into an anniversary of sorts.  One year ago this month we began to live life with the realization that our oldest son has an inflammatory bowel disease… ending up with the diagnosis of indeterminate colitis.  It’s chronic.  It’s disruptive.  It’s incredibly inconvenient. But, it’s the place God has us.  We are seeing God “show up” in amazing ways as we walk this journey.


This blog entry is the first in a series where I will try to recount the valley we began to walk last year.  We aren’t to the other side yet.  But, I believe that it’s important that we share this journey in community.   The way a few grains of sand in my shoe drive me batty, sorting stories alone leads to isolation.

But those same grains, when joined with thousands of others, provide a tender and inviting place to walk.  So stories, when shared in community, provide a gentle place to process what God’s doing.  The difference in is in the gathering.

When we share the journey with others, openly, God reveals himself in the process. Not just when everything works out like we hoped.

I’d love to hear your own stories about how God has met you in the midst of unknowing.

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September 28, 2011

Gathering information is a strength of mine.  It’s my “go to” move when I’m trying to cope.  So, when we learned that Benjamin has “indeterminate colitis”, I consulted my nutrition books and websites looking for answers, looking to fix it.  Unfortunately, there isn’t an “easy fix.”  But what in life worth doing or learning is ever easy?  Even so, information by itself is cold and steril.  In my searching, I craved more than information.  I craved a presence I knew was beyond me.  I needed God near.

You may have heard me speak about the nearness of God.  It’s my favorite thing about Him — that he doesn’t run away in times of trouble, that he celebrates with us in victory, and draws close when we cry.  But I have to say, after many days of Benjamin bleeding, even in the hospital, I started to feel desparate.

One morning, about 10 days into our hospital stay, I needed to be loud with God.  I went on a walk and yelled at him.  OK, God, this has gone on long enough.  Why don’t you do something?  Where are you?  I need you to press in nearer.  You’re not near enough.  I felt desparate.  Many times I sobbed and nearly collapsed.

As I plodded along the nature paths in our neighborhood, the morning silent and misty, a strange thing happened.  Instead of my thoughts swirling in despair, I realized that they had begun to settle on what brings God glory.  I noticed glistening dewed blades of grass, the beautifully haphazard array of wildflowers and weeds, a seasoned stump ringed with age.  Unintentionally, I was thinking about how God was bigger than “indeterminate colitis.”  He gently led me to a place of surrender and I no longer cared about being “delivered.”

Instead of rescue me… rescue Benjamin, my heart whispered do what brings you glory.

I asked him to glorify himself in the midst of our struggle.  I told him that if we could just stand in the radiance of that glory, it would be enough.  I rested there, sweetly.  God drew near.

I can’t say that Benjamin has been healed.  He will most likely have this condition for the rest of his life.  I can’t say that anything I’ve planned has worked out my way.  But, I can say that God isn’t wasting a minute of this.  He is bringing himself glory as he shepherds us in the valley.  He is good and the writer of good stories… and I’m so glad I’m his.

What God Saw

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David’s circuitous  route to becoming king fascinates me.  I’ve often wondered how he held onto the vision he had received when Samuel anointed him quietly in the family tent.  God saw something in David that he didn’t even see in himself.  Actually, I think David’s ability to worship the Lord “with all his might” enabled him to hold onto his faith, even in the face of incredible odds.  In the end, it makes me wonder, what does God see in me that I haven’t yet experienced?

Enjoy this third story for children on the life of David.

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based on 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15

Trumpets pealed throughout the city announcing the king’s arrival.  Children raced through Jerusalem’s open air markets, calling, “The king has returned!  The king has returned!”  Eagerly, people gathered in their doorways to catch a glimpse of their king and the priests as they maneuvered through the narrow streets.

Disinterested, Michal heard them through her balcony window as she lounged among silk cushions.  “So King David has brought back the sacred Ark of the Covenant,” she mumbled to herself.  “I can’t figure out why he’s so interested in that old chest.  In fact, I can’t figure a lot of things about David these days.”

Michal’s confusion about David was understandable.  A lot had happened since she had married him 10 years ago.  She was shyly impressed when he had killed 200 Philistines to earn her hand in marriage.  Her father, King Saul, had set a high price, and the courageous, young David had boldly met every demand.  And when her father had become insanely jealous of David, she had selflessly put her own neck on the line to help him escape.  But the years on the run had changed David.  His youthful fire was gone, and he was more cautious now.  Once her father and brother, Jonathon, had been killed in battle, the elders in Israel placed David on the throne.  Becoming the wife of the king pleased Michal, she always knew that she belonged in royal robes.  But David’s fascination with this fancy chest annoyed her, and she couldn’t wait for this meaningless celebration to be over.

For David, the celebration was anything but meaningless.  It symbolized his gratitude to the Lord God for keeping His promise.  It seemed so long ago that Samuel had secretly anointed him.  None of them could have predicted the twists and turns the road to become king would take.  But God’s hand had never faltered.  God had established him as King of Israel, and David had to let everyone know of the marvelous works God had done.

So once David had made a home for himself and his family in the capital city, Jerusalem, he had looked for a way to honor God and bless the people.  He had built a special tent to house the Ark of God’s Covenant, an elegant and holy chest decorated with golden angels that stood for God’s presence among His people.  With great care David called together the priests and holy men of Israel to plan a splendid parade honoring God.

Early in the morning, all the best musicians in Israel assembled with drums, cymbals, trumpets and harps eager to make joyful music for the Lord.  David and the priests left to retrieve the Ark from its storage place in Obed-Edom.  As they returned to Jerusalem, David offered a sacrifice of an ox and a young calf.  The golden Ark glistened in the sunlight as the hold men carefully carried the sacred object.  The worshippers streamed into the city, shouting and cheering, playing every kind of musical instrument.  Beautiful melodies filled the air celebrating the God of Israel.

Overcome with his love for the Lord, David removed his velvet robe and humbly put on the rough linen prayer vest of a priest. Then David danced.  He stomped his feet and waved his arms and used his whole body to express his joy before the Lord.  His voice soared above the din as he sang, “I will praise You, Lord God; You have shown Your faithfulness to Israel!  Oh how wonderful are Your works!”  He didn’t care how silly he looked or how undignified his dance.  His heart felt as if it would explode with thankfulness for all God had done.  He had to show it.

The priests climbed the hill on which the great tent was pitched and carefully placed the Ark within it.  Then David honored God with peace offerings, and he blessed the people in the name of the Lord.  Graciously he gave everyone gathered a loaf of bread, barbecued meat and sweet raisin cakes.  David’s joy was contagious.  He taught them a praise song calling them to tell all people everywhere the fabulous things God had done.   All the people joined him with a resounding, “So be it!  Amen!”

When the celebration had come to an end, the people left for their homes, and David turned to his home to bless his family.  A cold and condemning Michal greeted him.  “My, how the King of Israel showed off today,” she sneered.  “I would think you knew better than to take off your royal robe and dance like a fool before common servant girls.”

Grieved by her words, but confident in his actions, David responded, “I danced before the Lord God today, who chose me as king over all Israel instead of your father.  I will gladly play the fool and humble myself as I worship the Lord; and my people will honor me for it.”

All his days, David sought God with a whole heart.  Without ever looking back, in a lowly shepherd boy, God found a king to shepherd His people, Israel.  And with a view to the future, God sent another Good Shepherd for His people — even, you and me.