Inklings of Truth


Delight or De Slight?

By Audrey Stallsmith

“My daddy can,” a little girl boasts, following that up with a list of all the prodigious feats of which her father supposedly is capable.  But her simple pride, faith, and unquestioning love don’t last after she becomes a teenager.  Suddenly, parents are an embarrassment and encumbrance.

In the same way, the delight we feel in God, when we are young in the faith and just adopted into His family, tends to wane.  In the first flush of gratitude, we can’t believe that anyone so stupendous could really love us.  It’s as if a king had agreed to take in the illegitimate children of prostitutes and tramps.   

In time, though, gratitude tends to wear off.  If our Father can do anything, why doesn’t he make our lives easier instead of expecting so much from us instead?  After all, aren’t we now supposed to be princes and princesses?

We begin to sound too much like the whining children of Israel.  Even though God provides manna for them every day, they tire of miraculous fare that requires labor to gather, and demand the more earthly free food of Egypt instead.  Apparently they choose to forget the reason that food cost them nothing--because slaves don’t buy their own provisions.

Whenever we are inclined to find our pleasures a little dry when compared to those of sinners, we’d better remember the bondage that also was back there 'in Egypt."  Like the Israelites, we often neglect what John Piper calls The Dangerous Duty of Delight.  If our “chief end,’ after all, is “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” too many of us already are falling down on the job.  We sometimes are more inclined to slight what our Liberator gives us than to delight in it. 

Even my guinea chicks know what delight is.  They revel in the dandelion greens I give them as a treat.  When I toss the torn-up leaves into their pen, they dash about frantically, gobbling those morsels of green up as fast as they can, as if afraid they might miss even one little scrap. 

We humans who have sampled the bitter flavor of dandelion greens may find this odd, but Chesterton speaks in his autobiography of “the strange and staggering heresy that a human being has a right to dandelions; that in some extraordinary fashion we can demand the very pick of all the dandelions in the garden of Paradise; that we owe no thanks for them at all and need feel no wonder at them at all; and above all no wonder at being thought worthy to receive them. Instead of saying, like the old religious poet, "What is man that Thou carest for him, or the son of man that Thou regardest him?" we are to say like. . .the bad-tempered Major in the club, "Is this a chop fit for a gentleman?"     

In Secrets in the Dark, Frederick Buechner writes, “We are above all things loved--that is the good news of the gospel--and loved not just the way we turn up on Sundays in our best clothes and on our best behavior and with our best feet forward, but loved as we alone know ourselves to be, the weakest and shabbiest of what we are along with the strongest and gladdest. To come together as people who believe that just maybe this gospel is actually true should be to come together like people who have just won the Irish Sweepstakes.”

So gobbling up what God gives us isn’t positive thinking; it’s just reasonable gratitude.  Granted, we aren’t likely to be as enthusiastic as my guineas are about the bitter stuff.  So I don’t mean we should never question what happens to us. 

I mean we should give God at least as much benefit of the doubt as we give our earthly parents.  Those of us with good mothers and fathers can look back now and know they had reasons for what they kept from us, reasons we might not have been mature enough to understand at the time. 

If we truly trust God, we’ll assume that He too has reasons for not coddling us   Maybe we need to get back to the “my daddy can” attitude.  After all, our heavenly Father really does divide seas, slay entire armies at a single blow, and rain bread down from heaven.  Shouldn’t we be bragging about that?