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Experiencing Joy in the Presence of God

Originally published Thursday, 26 December 2013.

…you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… - Isaiah 43:4

About this time last year, I took my younger daughter, Avery, to school. She was in afternoon Kindergarten at that time, and Ella, my older daughter (who was in first grade), had recess at the time I droped Avery off.

After taking Avery to school, I got in my car and began to drive home along the street bordering the school’s playground. Whenever I drive by during recess, I always scan the playground to see if I can see the girls. Sometimes I find them playing with their friends, sometimes I don’t. But this time, as I drove slowly, I saw Ella sitting right on the other side of the fence, playing in the dirt with a friend.

I rolled my passenger window down and shouted, “Ella!” And I will never forget my sweet daughter's reaction.

She looked, immediately popped up from where she sat, and began running along the fence, joy upon her face, trying to keep up with my car. There were cars behind me, so I couldn’t go too slow, but she kept up, running her little heart out for the chance to simply be with her mommy. We weren’t able to talk, we weren’t able to be side-by-side, but still, I could see and feel her heart filled with joy, just given the chance to see me.

Soon, after running the length of the playground, she came to its edge. Ella stopped and waved, smiling the biggest smile her little face could hold.

“I love you,” I yelled as we both waved until we could see each other no more.

My eyes welled with tears as the beauty of the moment settled into my heart, and it got me thinking. This is what God wants from us. Our hearts. This is all He wants from us. He doesn’t expect us to perform. He doesn’t expect perfection, but instead He wants us.

When asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…”(Matthew 22:36-37, emphasis mine). He wants our love. He wants us to overflow with peace, joy, and love upon coming into His presence.

This is precisely why sin breaks God’s heart. Sin pulls our hearts away from Him.

We are loved by our Father in Heaven with an unfathomable love. He chooses us. He loves us. He reconciled us to Himself through Jesus’ death so we might expereince a relationship with Him much like the one I just experience with Ella, though greater in every way. And when we come to Him, I believe He too, is overcome with joy, for it is then that we are in the place we were created to be.

Today, let us come to Him joyfully and experience our relationship with our Heavenly Father in a new, deeper way.