This was a question posed to us at a recent ladies’ retreat. It was a good reminder that gave me pause.
You see, I am not naturally oriented towards people. I am oriented towards tasks, achievement, organization and lists. I have to intentionally make time and space for people. I have to intentionally prioritize relationships and personal interaction, even with the ones that are the dearest to me.
These tendencies make their way into my relationship with God too. It is so easy for my relationship with Him to become a duty, one more thing to do, instead of a life-giving relationship that is entered into and enjoyed.
Enjoying God is Eternal Life
John 17:3 caught my attention last summer as it highlights the gift that God truly wants to give us. It says,
This is eternal life, that they know you [Father], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
What is the gift of eternal life? Knowing God. Knowing Jesus. Being in personal and intimate relationship with them. Enjoying them.
This was what Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden. This was God’s intention for His relationship with humankind. This is what heaven will be. And it’s what we can begin to experience while here on earth.
Enjoying God Defined
This word enjoy is so full and rich when we begin to unpack it. When you enjoy something you
- Experience joy in it
- Take pleasure in it
- Delight in it
- Find your satisfaction in it
- Relish it
- Savor it
It helps me to substitute these synonymous words into Scripture. The text comes alive in a new way for me.
For example, in Psalm 37:4a we are exhorted to, “Delight yourself in the Lord.” You could also say,
- Experience joy in the Lord.
- Take pleasure in the Lord.
- Find your satisfaction in the Lord.
- Relish the Lord.
- Enjoy the Lord.
- Savor the Lord.
Or what about Psalm 16:11, “In your presence there is fullness of joy.” You could say,
- In your presence I experience joy.
- In your presence I find pleasure.
- In your presence I find satisfaction.
- I relish being in your presence.
- I enjoy being in your presence.
- I savor being in your presence.
Both of these verses are relationship oriented, as is all of Scripture. God continually points us towards Himself, inviting us to come close and experience perfect relationship and intimacy.
I love this quote by John Piper that sums up this idea perfectly.
Truths About Enjoying God
As I reflected on the question posed to us at the retreat and where life finds me right now, I realized a few things.
Enjoying requires attention.
You have to be in the moment to enjoy something. It doesn’t happen when you’re distracted. A kiss. A sunset. A quiet moment amidst the chaos. A verse of Scripture. A song. These can be entered into and enjoyed. They can also be hurried through or missed. In order to enjoy God, my attention must be fixed on Him.
Enjoying begins by receiving.
Enjoyment is initiated by something outside of us. A flower. Time spent together. A kindness that meets a need. If I’m too busy to notice the gesture, I will never be able to enjoy it. If I see it but don’t stop to embrace it and welcome it, the ability to receive and enjoy passes away. God always takes the initiative. He is constantly speaking and giving and offering. Do I take the time to receive God’s graces and respond in enjoyment?
Enjoying cannot be a duty.
Because enjoyment includes pleasure and relishing, it flies in the face of required obligation. Enjoyment is not an item to be checked off but something of substance to be entered into. Duty kills desire while enjoyment grows from it. Religion brings requirements, obligations, and burdens. Personally relating to God brings life, abundant and free. If I am to enjoy God, I must resist the lure of religion and prioritize personal interaction.
Enjoying emanates from the affections.
There is a reason God says the most important command is to love Him. For when we love, we desire, we are personally relating, we are enjoying. Enjoyment places value on the object of its affection. It delights to interact, to spend time with. It looks forward to time and conversation, shared laughter and tears. God loves us. He shows us repeatedly in innumerable ways. His heart is for us. The more my heart is turned towards God, the more I will naturally enjoy Him.
How Are You Enjoying God?
Now, back to the question. Maybe a simpler question is, “How are you relating to God right now?” Are you excited to personally interact with Him? Do you come to Him with a list of everything you need from Him? Is your time with Him the same every day? Does your interaction feel burdensome or life-giving?
God is relating to you every day. His mercy is new every morning which means every morning He is looking for ways to show you favor and love. Every morning He looks for ways to initiate relationship.
If you can’t quite see it, think about these questions:
- What has He sent your way to make you smile?
- What has He provided for you that is personally significant?
- What has He done to make you feel safe? Seen? Loved?
- How has He displayed His kindness to you? His generosity? His long-suffering? His goodness?
- What promises has He whispered to your heart?
All of these things reveal the heart of God towards you. He enjoys you. He delights in you. He takes pleasure in you.
Once you have experienced the truth of how personally God relates to you, you can’t help but reciprocate those same feelings. As you sense His enjoyment of you, you can relax and enjoy Him too. As you experience His delight in you, your heart becomes delighted and enamored with Him.
Enjoyment begins by receiving. Take time today to pay attention to the ways God is delighting in and enjoying you (not the things you do, but you as a person). Allow your affections, your love, to respond to His initiative and creativity and see if you don’t find yourself enjoying God more!
Delight was my One Word for One Year in 2017. You can read more of how God taught me to delight in and enjoy life, my family and God Himself.
No one has helped shape my understanding of enjoying God more than John Piper. Here is an article (or you can watch the video) that explores the depths of this idea – What Is It Like to Enjoy God?