Yesterday, my men’s small group was over and we had a time to pray for one another. We meet every two weeks and it’s always a time of refreshing and encouragement.
As one of the brothers was praying for me, he said, “And we see the way his face lights up when he sees his daughter; the joy that he has…”
I’ve been told I have a very neutral face. Combined with my poor vision which causes me to squint, it looks like I’m pretty unhappy all the time. So for my face to light up, it takes some work.
When the brother prayed that, I imagined what I look like when I see my daughter, and I saw how she makes me smile. I saw myself chuckling at the little things she does, like saying, “No…I’m good,” when she’s not hungry. I remembered how even if I’ve had the worst day at work or when the stresses of ministry weigh me down, simply being on the drive home to see her made my heart race with anticipation.
While I feel joy and anticipation when I’m about to see my wife, the feeling towards my daughter is different. For my wife, it’s love, joy, and of course gratitude that she loves me despite all the ridiculous things I do. For my daughter, it’s delight. It’s, “mmmmmmmmm, so good” vs. “squeeeeeeeee!”
While I’m still learning how to be a good dad, I’m reminded that I have a perfect Father. The latter part of Zephaniah 3:17 says, “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” That same squeeeee I feel towards my daughter, my heavenly Father feels towards me.
And while the 2+ years she’s been alive haven’t been easy, I’ve found my delight in her doesn’t change. Yes, she can aggravate or endear herself to me with the things she does, but I’ve found that delight is fundamentally based on the fact that she is my daughter. This gives me such great hope: knowing that despite what I do or don’t do, while God may rebuke or encourage me to help me be who He made me to be, His delight in me never changes.
My Pastor often speaks from Mark 1:11 during baptisms – “And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.'” At this point, Jesus hadn’t started His ministry; He was simply a carpenter’s son. And yet, God is well pleased in His Son. He found delight in His Son’s identity, not His ability.
Now that’s good news.
So how does my daughter respond to my delight?
For one thing, she does what I ask with joy. We’re in the habit now where she throws away her own diapers and she never does it begrudgingly, but she RUNS, laughing and giggling the whole way. We don’t reward her w/ candy or treats, but we simply give her a high five or a hug and tell her she did a good job. You wouldn’t believe how her face lights up when she hears that.