In 1980, China opened its doors to the Western world to tourists. My mother was part of the first Christian envoy into China after decades of exclusionist policies. The difference in the quality of life between the Chinese and the Americans was striking, a phenomenon that is still not unusual when one travels. The little group was only the second American group allowed in; the first honor going to Bob Hope, the late actor, and his entourage. Each group was accompanied by the Minister of Tourism, presumably to keep the groups from seeing anything unflattering. The two groups received very different service and welcome. You see, the actor and his followers noted the difference in affluence and were vocal in their complaints.
The food was not to their liking, the hotels were bare compared to the luxuries available stateside, and the service was lacking. The group of Christians, made up of mostly wives and mothers and a couple pastors, delighted in their surroundings, the culture, and most of all the Chinese themselves. When there was little to praise, they would say, “The skies in China are some of the most beautiful we have ever seen!” In the face of the loving acceptance and clear enjoyment of their guests, the Chinese were charmed and gave themselves fully to the service of this group of ordinary people.
Delight is a language understood by all.
Consider the power delight has within a family. If the parents praise a child for their intelligence, that child’s identity and basis of self-esteem quickly rallies around that single aspect of who they are. So too with beauty, athleticism, and humor. Suddenly within the family unit, roles become established, and our oldest is the smart one, but our other daughter is the pretty one or athletic one, and our son, well, he is the clown of the family who makes us all laugh. Because the need to be delighted in is so strong, we often downplay other aspects of who we are and capitalize on the one that gets us the approval we need. What if we could delight in our children for who they are as a whole, and not only in what they do well? How would that change their relationship to us and to themselves? If we were to delight in our spouses, extended family, friends, and coworkers, how would that change the tenor of those relationships? But there is more to this concept of delight than just handing it out like candy. We can only plant the seeds we have in our hands.
If no one has delighted in you, how can you express easily that which you have not experienced?
I am often surprised when I read Genesis. I learn something new every time. Every time God created something new, He delighted in it. He saw that it was good. He created Eden as a place of delight. Every kind of tree and animal was there, and He spent time delighting in Adam and Eve who themselves delighted in each other and God. The introduction of contempt, the opposite of delight, by the serpent is part of another discussion. My point here is this: Have you experienced God’s unconditional delight in you? Yes, I know you are flawed. So am I. But remember, the Word of God is a long love letter to a people who have wandered out of the garden of delight. We celebrated the resurrection yesterday.
A God who would suffer and die in order to have relationship restored is a God who delights in his people, indeed.
So go on. Say it to yourself. God delights in me. He finds me delightful. He made me and saw that His creation was good. The extent to which you experience God’s delight in you is the extent to which you will be able to extend the incredibly precious gift of delight to others. So seek after God and His kingdom of delights with all your heart, for we must fill ourselves with the delightful presence of God first before we can dispense it to a world grown weary with contempt.