Today is a day that my six year old son has been waiting for. He has been counting down the days to it and reminding me every chance he gets. He’s been watching the commercials repeatedly on the computer and dreaming about it at night. Today the sequel to his favorite video game came out. (Insert exciting sound effect here!) I know … not that thrilling to most grown women. But that’s kind of the point that I’m writing about.
When I told my son that we were going to the store to look for the new game, he almost fell out of his seat with excitement. When we actually got to the store, he was starting to speak only half sentences because he was so distracted watching the aisles for signs that we were close to electronics. When we found the game he was smiling and jumping around. The entire rest of the time in the store, he sat in the back of the cart staring at the game case and talking constantly about how much fun he was going to have when we got home. Every time I turned a corner, he would say, “Are we going home now?” with such hopeful delight that it would make me giggle. When we finally got to the checkout lane, he simply could not contain himself. He was shaking and bouncing and smiling and squealing. He hugged and talked to the game case the entire drive home, and when we finally opened it he was literally trembling with anticipation.
I watched all of this with smiles and laughs, as any happy mother would do. And afterward as I watched him play the game with the hugest smile on his face, I started to wonder about when I last felt that level of excitement. I’m a happy person – anyone who knows me will tell you that. I smile a lot and laugh loudly. I’m an optimist and really believe I look for the joy in everything. But I cannot remember the last time I was so excited about something that I couldn’t physically contain myself. I can`t tell you the last time that kind of joy simply took over – that it bubbled up from inside and exploded out of every pore of my being.
The dictionary tells us that DELIGHT is a sense of unparalleled joy; an amazing degree of enjoyment and pleasure, even to the point of rapture. I’m not sure what you delight in. Maybe it’s a walk on the beach or a smile from your baby. Maybe you delight in catching snowflakes on your tongue or walking barefoot in the grass. Maybe your delight is losing yourself in a great song or a well-written book. Or maybe those things just make you happy. Do they really delight you?
Psalm 1:2-3 says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Here delight is immersing oneself in the law of the Lord. When it’s put that way, it does not sound so delightful to me – law sounds really boring. But for this psalmist, meditating on the scriptures is not a duty that fulfills a certain obligation. It is willingly devoting spare time to immersing himself in the word of God. And the result is becoming like a tree planted near a river – deeply rooted in the stream and strong enough to withstand harsh conditions because of it. That does sound delightful – total immersion in God’s word couldn’t result in anything else. It sounds like something that would bubble up from inside and shine onto everyone I meet.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, “Yes, Dina, I hear ya. That sounds wonderful. But, umm, some of us live in the real world … and we just don’t have time for all that delight. We’ve got real problems and can’t stick our nose in the Bible all day long.” (First, I’d love to direct you to the current sermon series “Room to Breathe” for any indicator of “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That.”) But, then, I’d love to talk to you about another good feeling – JOY. Joy, delight – delight, joy – same thing, right? Maybe, maybe not quite. I see delight as more of an action or even a state of being and joy as more of a gift. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy isn’t just feeling happy – it’s being happy. It doesn’t come and go, because it doesn’t come from ourselves or the brain sensors that detect pleasure. It comes from God. We can experience joy even in the midst of being broken and needy. We can experience joy even when surrounded by disappointment and struggles. Does that sound more like your typical day? True joy originates from God and from living in close connection with God, not from our current situation or emotional state. Joy is always accessible to us because God has given us the Holy Spirit – and joy is one of the fruits of the spirit. We just have to reach out to Him and take it.
I don’t know if my son today was delighting in the pleasure of his new game or was just overjoyed at the excitement of it. I don’t know if something like a video game can even really give delight or joy, or if it’s simply too trivial for that. But I know that the sparkle in his eyes today lit up the room. And I know that as an adult, I don’t feel that bright often enough. And I know that when I go looking for it, I will always find it in my Lord. It may be touching base with my sisters in Christ by reading this blog or staff devotions at work. It may be a song in worship or the feeling of finding a new scripture to study. I just need to surrender to it more often, and my roots will grow. What is your joy today? And what are you delighting in?