Growing up, I heard many sermons on Jesus’s baptism.
I imagined him coming out of the water (in slow motion) with a dove descending, the heaven’s opening, and God speaking those famous words from Matthew 3:17, “this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Oh to be loved like that, my heart would cry.
But, this is Jesus we are talking about—perfect, holy, never-done-a-thing-in-his-life wrong Jesus. Of course the Father is so proud and well pleased!
Is he pleased with me?
As a child, I knew that God loved me. But I questioned if he was pleased with me.
I wasn’t convinced he even liked me that much. If I had to be good to please him, if I had to have enough faith, if I had to check all of the boxes to get him to find pleasure in me… yeah, that was a hard sell.
I knew all of the Scripture about how God loves us. There’s the most famous—John 3:16. There is reference to how much he loved David, whose name literally translates to beloved, and there is the story of the prodigal son and his father’s deep love for him.
Our Father’s love is unconditional, we know this to be true. But does he like us? Is he well pleased with us?
A conditional connotation
The very word like seems to immediately draw a conditional connotation. Besides that, God in the Old Testament seems to always be putting up with humanity. He is frustrated, angry, jealous, and even exhausted with our inability to remain obedient.
You know what that sounds like? Me, as a mother.
I get it, God. I don’t know how many times I have to tell my children to pick up their shoes, look both ways, brush their teeth, put down the electronics, eat all their food, and the list goes on.
All of the things I am asking them to do are for their own good. I don’t want to give them a bunch of rules, and I’m not looking to test them. I just know what’s best for them and wish they would listen.
I am well pleased with you
Then one day, I heard it. I was frustrated and I made my son cry when using a harsh tone. I said, “Adam, you know I love you!” He replied, “But, you don’t like me!”
In that moment, I deeply connected with my own inner child who looked up to the heavens and thought, “Yeah, God, but you don’t like me.”
I sank to the floor and I told him what the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “I delight in you.”
And then the words just kept coming, “You are my son, and I may not like what you have done, but I like you. I like who you are, and I am well pleased with you.”
Because he delights in us
To be honest, I didn’t really know that my children needed me to tell them that I like them. I just assumed they knew and that vocalizing my love for them was enough. How wonderful would it be to know that you aren’t just loved but that you are delighted in by your heavenly Father?
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT).
Not soon after this breakthrough with my son, I commissioned a friend to make me a large piece of wall art that states, “because the Lord delights in us.”
It’s mostly there to remind me that the reason I can have a relationship with my God, the reason he blesses my family and has moved heaven and earth to be with us, is because he delights in us.
Let us tell our children the same. May we all come to know the fullness of his love and pleasure in us—his children.