“The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” -Julian of Norwich, c. 1342 – 1416
I was reading a book last night called The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows, and I came upon that quote. The book was excellent reading, and messing with me in some very good ways, and that quote was quite good. Then I ran into this quotation, a rephrasing of Julian of Norwich’s original statement:
What God most wants
is to see you smile
because you know
how much God loves you.
I stopped and reread that sentence. My eyes flew uncomprehendingly back and forth across it, my heart hardly daring to believe the words my eyes were seeing. God? Wanted to see ME smile???
Rewind about four years (Four? Already???) to when I was just beginning to realize that I wanted to know this God. I had had an epiphany of sorts, wherein I realized that we serve God out of love, a sheer desire to see our Father smile, because He loved us first. I was wrestling with questions, like “If God loves us no matter what we do, why should we do ‘the right’ things?” This epiphany was the answer. My purpose was to make God smile. Which is an inspiring reason to serve God – if you’re in loving relationship with Him.
Aaaanndd we’re back in 2011. Me making God smile by MY actions I can understand. But what is THIS??? God making ME smile? God wants to make me smile? WHAT THE HECK? But in that moment, these thoughts hadn’t struck me just yet. I was crushed by the wonderfulness of the possibility, crushed in the best way, my heart torn by the idea that God wanted me to be so overwhelmed by His love that I couldn’t help but… smile? I wanted to weep for the joy. God cares about me. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us…
And I think I knew this once. I just kind of… forgot it.
Which is funny and cool and ironic all at once because I had just come from Red Lamp and been overtaken by the idea that joy, not solemnity, is one of the fruits of the Spirit. We think people are holy because they’re solemn. Where does this nonsense come from?!
I got a reality check from Ree on the rephrased quotation and decided that “What God most wants” is a little overdone, but if we leave off “most,” we’re pretty much accurate.
This is hard to wrap my mind around. I can understand me pleasing God. I just can’t wrap my mind around anything that would allow me to believe that God wants to please me. Even looking at the words they seem heretical. And there’s a lot of fine print that has to go on the end of that sentence, and loose theological ends to tie up… like that God wants what’s best and not just what will make me short-term happy, but what will make me long-term happy, which to be honest just makes this better news… “Love is doing what’s best for somebody else, even if it’s inconvenient for you…” God loves?
I can comprehend ME wanting GOD to be happy with ME, but GOD wanting ME to be happy with HIM? This is something else again. This sounds like a love story.