The Pleasure of God

The Pleasure of God

Who can say how these moments arrive? A sudden awareness, an unseen presence descending like a soothing breeze.

It happened to me one glorious fall day. The late afternoon sun felt warm on my skin. I’d been picking up trash, strewn along the roadside by our house.

IMG_1154With my garbage sack full, I strolled up the driveway, thinking about how seasons come and go and years slip by. A vague kind of loneliness came over me as one thought led to another. And then, God came near.

You’re so beautiful to Me, He whispered.

It had nothing to do with physical beauty. Time fades all that. Besides, I was grimy with dirt and perspiration. It seemed like such an odd thing for Him to say. Why then?

It had nothing to do with the fact that I was picking up other people’s garbage, as if that were something special. Concerned citizens in our town organize that kind of effort all the time.

It wasn’t like I’d just accomplished some great thing in my life. I was simply carrying a load of garbage up the driveway. But God seems to catch me off guard in quiet, solitary, mundane moments—maybe on purpose—so I won’t associate it with anything I’ve done.

He just wanted me to feel His pleasure.

Jesus BaptismJesus hadn’t even started his ministry when John baptized him in the Jordan River. Still, God said, “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” Of course, one might say, “That’s because it was Jesus,” but that same pleasure is for us.

Kindness Words in Sky Compassionate Generous BackgroundGod smiles when someone does the right thing and no one is looking. He rejoices over the marriage bed of a husband and wife who’ve remained faithful. He is moved by true contrition and forgiveness. He delights when we step into the purposes for which He made us. He notices surprising generosity, private worship, and honest prayers. He exults over each person who comes out of darkness into light.

It might sound prideful or pompous to say God takes pleasure in us. One could even say it smacks of self-righteousness. But His pleasure isn’t necessarily tied to our good behavior…

Once, when visiting my parents, I had propped myself up with a few pillows to read in bed. I slept in the back bedroom where various family wedding pictures hung on the wall. That night, I opened my Bible and landed on Psalm 15 (NLT):

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?

Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,

Speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

Those who refuse to gossip

Or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.

Those who despise flagrant sinners,

And honor the faithful followers of the Lord,

and keep their promises even when it hurts.

Those who lend money without charging interest,

And who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.

Such people will stand firm forever.


mirrorThe keeping-their-promises part really struck me, and I uttered a brief prayer… “I hope I can be that kind of person.” As I leaned over to put my Bible on the bedside table, I saw movement in my peripheral vision. It startled me. But, it was just my reflection in a small standing mirror on the desk. I exhaled. When I focused, I saw my face framed exactly in that little 7-inch mirror. What were the chances of that?

Immediately, God whispered…You don’t see yourself, do you?

Evening PrayerWith the lights off, I laid there pondering what He meant. Again, God tenderly hovered over me. Perhaps it was the pleasure of God.

It feels awkward to mention these private moments. I’ve made many mistakes in life—I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. But everywhere I go, I meet people who think they’ll never be good enough for God. I long for them to experience the pleasure of God, which has far more to do His love and less to do with our actions.

Gilead coverIn Marilynne Robinson’s priceless book, Gilead, John Ames, a retired and dying pastor, is writing down different reflections on his life. He recalls a time in his childhood when he and several friends were deeply concerned about the salvation of a litter of barn cats.

tomcatThe kids only had one doll dress, but one by one each kitten had its turn. Young Ames baptized every cat, touching their foreheads with water. Fortunately, he wasn’t raised in the baptismal tradition of total immersion—something the little felines should be grateful for. In the end, whether pagan or Christian, the cats ran off to live their feral lives.

But John Ames mused about it for another reason:

Caring father's hands - dad and newborn“I still remember how those warm little brows felt under the palm of my hand. Everyone has petted a cat, but to touch one like that, with the pure intention of blessing it, is a very different thing. It stays in the mind…There is a reality in blessing, which I take baptism to be, primarily. It doesn’t enhance sacredness, but it acknowledges it, and there is a power in that. I have felt it pass through me, so to speak. The sensation is of really knowing a creature, I mean really feeling its mysterious life and your own mysterious life at the same time.”

No matter, who you are, where you’ve been, how old you are, or what you’ve done… God wants to touch your brow, hold your head, and lean in close—to remind you your life is sacred. May you feel His pleasure.


  1. Blown away and moved to tears. Thank you Susan. If not in this lifetime but the next I look forward to meeting you. God bless you over and over. I am going to print this if I can and stick in my Bible.

  2. this is so beautiful. we love god because he first loved us. and the way you phrased the truth about baptism . . . not enhancing our sacredness but acknowledging it. this is liberation of the highest holiest degree. these are thoughts i need rolling around in my pointed little head 24-7. if only it were possible. sigh. oh well, even 5 sustained minutes of such reflection settles me. thanks, darling.
    suzee B

  3. Susan,
    just beautiful…your writing and God’s love for us…such grace….I also enjoyed reading Gilead…blessings 🙂