This morning, curled up in the corner of my usual quiet-time space, my workbook to Beth Moore’s The Quest Bible Study open on my lap, a question sprung off the page and stumped me: Do you struggle to imagine God smiling on you?
I thought about it, took a sip of my warm vanilla coffee, and wrote down my honest answer.
Dutifully, I kept going, and read Exodus 33. Moses and God are having a conversation, one of their many “face-to-face” conversations, God and this man who had overcome all his shortcomings to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God tells Moses to head to the land promised to Abraham. He promises angels to accompany them, victory against the people who would stand against them, a land of milk and honey, and promises spread out before them like a feast. But there is a catch.
God says, “I will not go with you because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you along the way” (3).
I laughed out loud. How many times have we felt this way as parents? It’s why we sometimes clamp down on our tongue or shut the door hard behind us and lock it. There’s no telling what we might do otherwise.
But Moses so loves God that he begs God to come with them: “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people” (13).
The Lord’s reply is full of love, receiving Moses’s humble request with grace. God says He’ll go with them and give Moses rest (14). Then, a couple verses later He says, “I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name” (17).
As I contemplated those verses and this intimate conversation with Moses and God, I thought about my conversations with God. Granted, God hasn’t talked back to me in the way He talked to Moses. I’ve never heard his voice, and I’ve never seen his back or felt His presence in the way Moses did, but I daily speak to God and communicate with Him through His Word and through worship. I’m close to Him. I rely on Him. I plug into Him daily because His Word is like milk to a baby: it nourishes me, fills me, helps me to grow and mature.
But. BUT. Back to Beth’s question: have I ever thought about God being pleased with me? Have I ever imagined Him smiling at me?
I put down my notebooks and headed to the shower. I needed time to process. I’m a mom. So I’m in the habit of deep thinking occurring while either in the shower or in the bathroom. It’s just my reality. Don’t judge me. You know you’re the same.
As I lathered my hair I spoke out loud to God. Do I believe you’re pleased with me? Do I believe you’re happy with me? Do I believe you look at me and smile with pride and joy, with love I can’t comprehend? As I began to cry, I realized I didn’t. I haven’t ever truly considered whether I bring joy to God. It’s all too much, to believe He loves me when I feel like I let Him down daily. I am stubborn and selfish and sometimes vain. I don’t pray enough for other people, even when I mean to. I sometimes misplace my faith instead of believing in His total glory.
There in the steam, as hot water cascaded over me, I looked down to see swirls of water slide into the drain. And there, next to my feet, was a Band-Aid that must have come off my son Avry’s finger the night before when he took his shower. He insists on wearing a Band-aid when the skin isn’t even broken, when there’s no healing to be done, only a sting he wants to disappear. He applies that sticky flesh-colored piece of tape with a faith that it will take away the pain. Just putting it on is enough. It works because he believes it will.
That precious redheaded boy. He’s stubborn and bright. Kind and impatient. Energetic and exhausting. He wears me down and he wears me out. Yet even when I think of the crazy he drives me, I’m awe-struck by him. This child can out-pray his whole family; he can cook himself breakfast and clean up better than his father; he has a mighty faith.
But he can’t ever know how thinking of him brings me such joy. He simply can’t imagine or comprehend it. He won’t know until he’s a parent that I marvel in how fortunate I’ve been to have a hand in creating him. I can tell him I love him until every skinny blonde hair falls out of my head, but he won’t ever truly know that love. The pleasure I find in him. The involuntary smile that spreads like wildfire when he leaves a piece of himself behind.
It’s true I’d never considered how much God could take pleasure in me. And if I’m honest, despite Scriptures that tell me the great truth of His love for me, it’s hard to imagine God looking at me and smiling. Over me? Sure I can be funny. I can accessorize a mean outfit. And I can worship like nobody’s business. But me?
And then I think about my children. And I smile. Even when I’m lost in thought over the last time they infuriated me, or the last time I locked myself in my room so I wouldn’t say or do something ungodly, I can’t help but smile – not always on the outside – sometimes it’s just in my spirit, but it’s there. This pleasure that is innate. Because they are mine.
And even though we can be stiff-necked and stubborn, even when we sometimes misplace our faith in something that can only cover up our pain and not heal it, He can’t help but smile at us, take pleasure in us. Because we are His.Even though we can be stiff-necked and stubborn, He can’t help but smile at us Encourage a Friend
Do you sometimes wonder where God is in your crazy? Do you feel like your faith doesn’t even make your To Do list?
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