I was fortunate to grow up in a church with a pastor who loves Jesus, loves people, and loves storytelling. Mark Jordan is a wordsmith through and through. He could make any story, no matter the subject matter, interesting. As a kid, I looked forward to his carefully, crafted phrases.
I remember growing up and listening to him make the scriptures come alive. His passion and his vocabulary did justice to the Bible. It is, after all, the living word of God. It’s a sin to preach it in a boring way. His faithful teaching and care shaped me and I am overwhelmingly thankful for it.
One particular sermon came at a very important time for me. Many times growing up I felt (like many teenagers) that I was just short of the mold that everyone else seemed to fit. I’m a little short, a little awkward, not good a sports, and pretty slow-witted. I have some strengths, but most of them aren’t the kind that make you popular in high school. Let’s face it, in high school, no one wants to be your friend because you can pick up languages quickly or because you like singing Jazz music, or because you want to adopt the whole continent of Africa and South America (I did and do. Doug has his hands full).
Unfortunately, I transferred the same type of stereotype to God. I almost thought of God as head cheerleader, only he didn’t value short skirts, flirtation and partying. Instead, I thought he expected uniformity and cookie cutter good girl Christians with similar interests and the same music taste.
I couldn’t reconcile the fact that I loved reading books and singing jazz music with being a Christian. Those desires seemed strange and counter-productive.
It was in that haze of confusion that Pastor Mark’s sermon spoke to me. He quoted Eric Liddell, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast!And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
For the first time, I understood something crucial. God gave me those passions and desires for a purpose. My heart was wooed and assured. God made me with desires and gifts, and he enjoys when I enjoy them.
Playing music and singing is when I feel God’s pleasure. When I was in college I used to head to a small prayer chapel on our Christian campus and play songs on the piano by myself. Sometimes it is easier for me to sing prayers to God than to pray them. Playing music ignites a spark in me, a passion, that points me to God and in pursuing that passion, in being creative, I experience the joy of God. It’s because I am made in God’s image and because of that, he made me to enjoy making beautiful music.
Good books have always brought me pleasure as well. I get lost in the beauty of the story, celebrating the characters victories and mourning their tragedies. The beauty and truth that I find in books, point me to Jesus because he is the author and creator of all beauty.
God didn’t create us with likes and dislikes and strengths and talents without a purpose. There are no cookie cutter Christians. Instead, there are redeemed, whole people with diverse gifts and each of those passions and gifts are avenues of worship. I’m thankful for the way that creation (whether it be the beauty of the earth, the creative arts, people) points to the beauty of our creator. When we enjoy these good gifts from God, we are, in a way, enjoying God himself.
What are some ways that you feel God’s delight?