What brings you delight? In The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews’ character and the Von Trapp children sang a happy tune about a few of their favorite things. Remember? They sang about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen, brown paper packages tied up with string…
What are your favorite things? You know, the ones that put a smile on your face or a song in your heart? Depending on who you are and what season of life you’re in, the source of your delight may vary. For example, toys for tots, machines for men, wardrobes for women, tunes for teens, or recreation for the retired.
“Delight” simply describes something that provokes in you a pleasurable emotion, a sense of deep enjoyment or a high degree of satisfaction.
Daily delights are all around us, if we will only look. We often forget that God will use what we take delight in to accomplish His will. I love to share this story about my husband Skip, to illustrate this point.
Late one night, before Skip had become a pastor, heard the pounding surf echoing in his ears and decided to follow Pacific Coast Highway to the Huntington Beach pier. Being a typical Southern Californian beach boy, the salt and sand were a few of his daily delights. As he drove past the oil wells lazily nodding offshore, a sign posted on an apartment window, “Available Now,” caught his attention. For some time Skip had believed that God was calling him to become a pastor. However, he was uncertain of where and how he should minister. Yet at that instant, he remembered something his pastor had said the previous evening; “God is more likely to use people who are available now than those who are waiting for a thunderous voice from heaven to direct them sometime in the future.”
While pondering this, Skip parked his car and headed out barefoot onto the empty beach to pray. His destination was one of the many orange lifeguard stations. He scanned the horizon as he climbed the ladder–not another soul in sight. Perched atop the wooden structure with the ocean breeze blowing through his hair, Skip prayed out loud, “Here I am. Send me wherever you’d like. Use me as you see fit. I’m available now!” Then he waited to hear God’s still small voice. Instead, his brief prayer was interrupted by a peculiar sound coming from the base of the guardhouse; crunch, crunch, crunch. Skip peered over the edge of his lofty perch, surprised to discover a scruffy-looking boy eating a bag of Cheetos. Skip quickly thought, Perhaps God wants to use me right here and now. “Hey, dude,” Skip called out, completely startling the guy noisily munching beneath him. After a few introductory comments, Skip steered their conversation to the One who’d created the roaring ocean. The two beach boys began discussing life and death sin and salvation. By the end of their conversation, Skip led his fellow surfer in a prayer of salvation. In the shadow of a moonlit night, just by Skip’s being “available now,” God had been able to use him. Just by spending time delighting in his favorite place while praying to the Holy One, Skip stumbled quite naturally upon his own holy moment. Humanity and divinity had intersected at a unique point and time, and two lives were changed forever. As a result, Skip became more convinced that God wanted him to pursue full-time ministry: “That situation taught me that God doesn’t merely use those with ability, but availability.” Many people assume that an encounter with God can only be experienced through pain and suffering. But there’s good news; while trials do teach Christians a great deal, they are not the only catalysts God uses to accomplish His will in our lives. Are you looking for God? If so, He can be found in a valley or on a mountaintop–and in every place in between.
Psalm 37:4 reveals that the Lord speaks as powerfully through pleasure as He does through pain. So, don’t make the mistake of only listening for God’s voice when disaster hits, or finally reaching out for His hand when there’s no place else to turn. Instead, begin to recognize God’s still, small voice in the midst of your daily duties and learn to sense His holy presence in places you routinely visit. Like Jacob, you may be journeying along a familiar road, not realizing that “the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16, NIV). Or like Elijah, you might be listening for God’s voice in a violent windstorm, a tumultuous earthquake or a ferocious fire only to discover it in “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, NIV). One of the most important truths of the Christian faith is that we must not only be open to God’s surprises, but also ready and eager to embrace them.