April 10, 2021

Delight

Several weeks ago, I watched a recorded sermon from Duke Chapel. Rev. Roger Owens encourages us to wonder what it would be like if we lived as if our simple act of being is enough to bring delight to the God of the Universe.

I have pondered this in my heart ever since.

And I have spent a great deal of time wondering what it would be like if we lived this way not just in our relationship with God but also in the rest of our close relationships.

Delight is, according to Merriam Webster, “a high degree of gratification or pleasure.” It is related to the word joy.

We often think about pride in our close relationships. We want the people we love—especially the younger generation—to know that we are proud of them. I tell my girls and my son often that I am proud of them. My girls, who are now accomplished young women, have overcome more than their fair share of hurdles in the pursuit of their goals. They have demonstrated perseverance, integrity, and strong character. Indeed, I am very proud of them. I say to them and my son, regularly, “I am proud of you.” But I realize this praise is tied implicitly to their actions.

Pride usually accompanies an accomplishment by a person; it is the result of their doing. In contrast, delight requires nothing from a person other than their simple act of being.

How often do we tell our loved ones that we delight in them? That they bring us a high degree of pleasure? That their simple act of being in this world fills us with joy?

Not often enough, I have determined.

When Noely walked through the doors of COPA recently on a surprise visit home, my heart leaped with joy at the sight of her. A few moments in her presence filled me with delight. Similarly, when Daniela comes home for a visit, I am content just to watch her, to be with her. She doesn’t have to do anything. Neither does her little brother, Luis. I spend hours observing him sitting in a nook, playing with a toy and babbling away. This isn’t pride I feel—he hasn’t actually accomplished anything in this scene, nor does he need to—rather his mere act of being is enough for me. It brings me immense joy.

As I’ve thought about the delight I feel for my loved ones, I’ve also begun to wonder what it would be like if I lived this way with all of God’s creation. What if I could find a high degree of gratification or pleasure with the people I meet every day, with the critters of this earth, with the land itself? What if I didn’t look so much at their doing? What if, instead, I could find joy in their being.

This is, after all, what God does every minute of every day for every one of us.

This isn’t to say that we should abandon all moral codes of conduct and declare with a gleeful abandon that anything goes. Rather, this is a challenge to myself to learn to separate the doing from the being, to see what and whom God has created, and to know that it is good.

I confess I am very far away from this. I do not delight in all people.

The person I know who lives the closest to this calling is my friend Doug Addington. I admire him very much for it.

Doug seems to know everyone and, more astonishingly, he seems to like everyone. He has friends from the broadest spectrum of life I have ever seen. He is genuine in his care for them. He delights in their existence. He is excellent at separating their doing from their being.

When someone is very different from Doug, I don’t hear him put them down, analyze them, or even elevate them. Their act of being in this world is enough for him. He takes delight in their presence.

I don’t know what the world would be like if we all lived with the knowledge that our very existence brings immense joy to the God of the Universe. I don’t know what it would feel like if we all told each other more often how much delight we bring to one another. Truthfully, I don’t even know if it’s possible. But I know I’d like to find out.

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