God’s Unexpected Affirmation
I don’t think will ever forget the time when I heard a sermon from Pastor Jeff Griffin when he talked about a time when he truly sensed God’s pleasure in him. It was the coolest thing to hear. As I recall, he talked about how one weekend he was compelled to go shopping with his daughter as she prepared for a special event (as is true for a lot of men, Jeff mentioned that shopping is not one of his favorite things to do). Yet as he was deliberately engaging with his daughter and showing up as well as he could, he shared how had this unexpected sense of God’s affirmation for how he was loving his daughter. Jeff described how much that filled up his soul as he let himself receive God’s affirming words.
I love hearing that talk partially because I believe it taps one of yours and my deepest longings, the dream that God could be pleased with us.
As I interact with Christian leaders and others, I am often struck by how challenging it can be for so many of us to imagine that God is pleased with us or appreciates us. (Often busyness and feeling overwhelmed are the two of the biggest external culprits that hinder our ability to sense God’s appreciation of our humble efforts.)
To ideally give you a sense of what God could appreciate about you, let me toss out three things that I’m confident he appreciates about you as you engage with others. (Now implicit in this idea is the belief that God is good and generous, things that are very clear from the Word.)
Three Things God appreciates about You
When you are Patient
Patience can be so difficult sometimes! Isn’t it true?!? 🙂 When people annoy us, or cut us off, or are simply selfish, it can be sooo hard to be patient. (As a father of 4 kids ranging from 8 to 15, I know how hard patience can be at times.) It can be so tempting to be critical or harsh in our response to others when they disappoint us, frustrate us, or put a real damper on a great day. Yet, when we can respond with patience and understanding, it can do wonders, especially over time, to strengthen our relationships, and even our soul. As we grow in our ability to be patient with others, it also gives us the best chance for a positive outcome when we do need to confront, because we have demonstrated warmth and patience as a precedent. So, I believe when you and I are patient, when we embody compassion and understanding, I believe God looks at you and me with a smile on his face, and says, “I really love it when you are patient like that.”
When you are Generous
To be generous can often go against the grain of our selfish souls. To be generous means that we are at some level trusting God to meet our needs even as we give away things we could certainly use, such as money, time, or possessions. But when we are generous, when we are willing to forgo our own comfort and preferences for the sake of others, I believe it brings a smile to God’s heart. And, sometimes actually, the call is even to be generous with ourselves, to love our selves as we love our neighbor. I believe when we act in the spirit of generosity with others and ourselves, God says “I really love it when you’re generous like that.”
When you Persevere
Man, life can be undeniably brutal at times. It can be so tempting to give up. It can be so tempting to think “who am I to think I can do that?” It can be so easy to cave and say to ourselves, “that outlandish dream I had of doing good was just dumb.” While there are times when we do need to let go of things, more often than not, we are called to persevere. (As someone who has been working on three different books over the span of eight years, I know something about the challenge of persevering. And I know something as well about poor prioritizing and foolish decisions. 🙂 ) But as we persevere, as we continue to do good, even when there isn’t fanfare, I really believe it brings a smile to God’s face. I really believe when you and I continue to do the hard thing, the thing that honors Him, God looks at me you and me and says “I really appreciate how you have persevered. Well done.”
While it can feel awkward, I do believe it’s really healthy to imagine God appreciating things about us. Particularly for us as believers, we have the incredible gift of having God look at us through the work and life of Jesus, where we are the incredible recipients of all the favor and delight that God has in His Son. And, as we are patient, as we are generous, as we persevere, we are becoming more like Him.
I encourage you to take a moment or two to reflect on times when you have been patient, or generous, or have persevered. Now I encourage you to pray, and ask for the grace to receive God’s pleasure in you. May it fill your soul up with an irreplaceable sense of happiness and peace.
P.S. If it’s really hard for you to imagine God being pleased with you, or if you are so overwhelmed with busyness that you can barely take time to read this blog, I am offering an online class in a few weeks that is designed to help people live their live in a way that they are more and more aware of God’s presence and delight in them as His son or daughter. More information will be coming on that in case that would be helpful to you.
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