“He sent from above, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me; for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.” – 2 Samuel 22:17-20
We do not have the benefit of true, unconditional love in the world, no matter what the storybooks say. We’ll hear a lot about it, though. We’ll hear about love that stood the test of time, about love that could move hearts and mountains. Our own stories are rife with tales of the matchless, endless love of men for women; women for men; fathers for daughters; mothers for sons. We speak these narratives over and over, like mantras to ourselves, in novels, poetry, art of all kinds — movies especially, because who loves a sweeping romance more than the cinema-going audience of the twenty-first century?
We tell these stories because we know that love: unconditional love, strong, proud, noble love such as this; we know that it’s the most important and true thing in the entire world. We know this, because the world is bereft of the one true love for which every other love is just a pale shadow — the love of God for his creation.
The world cannot experience that love. It would rather have the pale shadow that it has idolized over decades, over millennia of fairytales, fables and smaller stories of love. Because to actually take an active part in the love that kicked all of that off, the real fairy story that has inspired so many sadder imitations over the history of humanity, that would require more than the world is prepared to give. An unconditional love — a true, unconditional love — is a phenomenon that requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires complete faith. It requires the acknowledgement of a yearning, deep within us, that can’t be satisfied with pale shadows, but demands something more. It requires the kind of love that destroys the old to build something better. It requires the kind of love that refines us and delivers us from the darker parts of our lives. It requires the kind of love that overwhelms us.
Like starving children, the people of the world can just about glimpse real food, and so tell stories to each other of what it might taste like… if only they could grasp it, just once. And so we get epic medieval poetry like ‘Tristan And Iseult’. We get gorgeous, desperate novels like Sparks’ ‘The Notebook’, and a gorgeous, desperate film of the novel to energize and sweep away those gorgeous, desperate people who don’t read. We get ‘Titanic’, the second highest grossing movie of all time, about a fictitious love that apparently trumped every other love story in that horrendous tragedy, because Leonardo DiCaprio had great hair.
We’re given sad, lonely imitations of real love, because the world can’t give us anything else. What we have in the Kingdom is something greater, as all of in the know actually know. We have the awe-inspiring, overwhelming love of God.
We didn’t just come to be, you know. We’re handcrafted. Over millennia upon millennia of the world’s existence, each and every one of us was called into being because we are the only ones – only that one person, you or me or them, everyone – that could fill the space that we were born into. We were created, not just as one of billions, like a space in a vast quota, but one of many, like names in a ledger. We’re important. You are. I am. Everyone is. Not because of who we might be, or what we might do, but simply because of who we are to the Father of us all, the giver who keeps on giving, over and over and over. It’s His love for us that makes us so important.
We are always in the process of learning how to reciprocate that love, that delight. God’s love for us isn’t some abstract thing, a philosophical conundrum that needs solving. It’s a real, passionate, delightful thing, a joy that we’ve only rarely known shadows of in the world that doesn’t acknowledge Him. God’s love is loopy! It’s crazy! It doesn’t know any bounds. In fact, it laughs in the face of attempts to try to bind it, because so many of us try to do that very thing: to ascribe limitations to God’s love; to imitate it to impress the people around us. Which is where we came in – we’ll hear a lot about stories of love, but nothing that even begins to describe the kind of flabbergasting beauty that exists out there for us right now.
David got it, just a little bit. He wasn’t a perfect man – he screwed up, and was one of those unfortunate souls who was recorded as screwing up in scripture. Imagine that, standing on the right hand of your Father, enveloped in that all-consuming love… and then God slips a hand over your shoulder and says, “now, I’m afraid your story is going to last for over two thousand years, and you don’t always come away smelling of roses here, son.” But David wouldn’t have cared less about that, because he saw the big picture.
David wrote songs about his Father in Heaven. He was a king of men that understood who the real King was. 2 Samuel 22 is a song of victory, a powerful narrative describing the way in which he became the king he was – and, more important, it’s a song of joy, of thanksgiving, of delight and of harmony with the blessing that allowed him that victory. It’s not the most devout of those, though… that honor belongs to Psalm 119, not only the longest psalm, but the longest chapter in the Bible. How fitting, that David made it one of endless blessing and rejoicing. It was his testimony – his lasting prayer, one of praise and gladness, a celebration of the person that God was for him.
We partner with God’s delight in us. We celebrate it as a vital part of our worship. It’s like fitting two joints together – the measurements are so precise, so perfect, that the joint is like a single unbroken piece of wood. We’re handcrafted, fitted together with the everlasting joy of God in us so that we can be unbreakable. We’re His workmanship. Ephesians 2:8-10 says,
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Whenever our hearts are overwhelmed by anxiety, God’s delight in us can provide comfort to us, because delight begets delight. It’s the chief expression of His heart towards us. And life in Christ is supposed to be fun! We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves. This is the single greatest experience that we can have, and the only one that makes sense to us. We relish our interactions with Jesus. We revel in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are constantly and consistently captivated by our Father above, because He has captured our hearts. Each day is a chance to further abide in His joy and delight for us, to allow ourselves to be touched afresh by His joy in us.
We can bring each of these experiences of delight and harmony into every conflict that we have in life. Caleb was one of those kinds of people. He brought harmony and the joy of the Kingdom into his experience on the battlefield (Numbers 14:8-9):
“If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
He understood how important it was to us, how valuable it was to us, to transform our hearts to match God’s essential nature. That’s why God, in turn, acknowledged him as ‘a man of a different spirit.’
God’s delight in us should be the platform for our worship. When we connect with that delight, we rejoice in all that He has for us, and all that He is towards us. As we experience His love, we act as one that is so beloved. In harmony, handcrafted to be the best we can be.
When you’re next sitting quietly before God, try sitting with no agenda… no idea, but to hear the words of pleasure that wash across you. You are in Christ. That means you are always worthy of love and affection, so put aside your old ideas of low self-esteem and poor self-worth. They’re irrelevant – they belong to the old you, and you’re dead to them now. God delivered you because He delights in you. You’ve been brought out into a broad place, one that echoes with His love. What do you hear?
Article by Ben