We call my niece the Pterodactyl. Don’t worry—we’ll stop when she gets old enough to find such a moniker unflattering (not to mention difficult to spell). But she’s only six months now, so I think we can get away with it for a while longer. (In case you’re wondering what a pterodactyl sounds like, click here.)
When I first heard Addie’s pterodactyl shriek, I couldn’t see her face, and I assumed she was “hangry” (hungry, angry, or some combination of the two). But then she turned her head, and I saw that she was scrunching up her nose and smiling the biggest one-toothed grin you’ve ever seen.
Whenever something delights her—the wagging tail of a dog or a spoonful of sweet potatoes or the entrance of one of her people into the room—she kicks her legs, flails her arms, and lets out a string of squawks. As her grandpa put it, she laughs with her whole body.
As you might imagine, this made for hours of entertainment when Addie was recently in town for a visit. With a six to one adult-to-baby ratio, you’d think we would have gotten a lot accomplished. But in reality, it just meant there were six grown adults hovering ceaselessly around our little bird, attempting whatever antics we could think of to evoke a squeal.
I had fleeting thoughts that we might be irrevocably spoiling her, but then I talked to a wise friend who said, “I think it’s great. She’s building up a reservoir of joy that will serve her well the rest of her life.” A reservoir of joy. Now that’s something I can work with.
My prayer buddy Marilyn tells a story about a little boy who loved watching the lightning whenever it stormed. Every time a flash lit up the night, he’d say, “Yay, God!”
After watching this happen several times, his mom finally asked him, “Why do you say, ‘Yay, God’ whenever there’s lightning?”
The boy grinned. “Mom, don’t you know that God is taking my picture?”
When do we lose that, I wonder—that sense of delighting in God and knowing we delight him? More often than not I come to him sheepishly, shamefacedly, my record of sins and shortcomings fresh in my mind. The thought that he’d hover around me, delighting in my smile, trying any antic to make me laugh, rarely crosses my mind. If the thought of God enters my mind when lightning flashes, I’m more likely to assume judgment than doting.
But take a look at this image Scripture paints of God’s character:
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.
Whether or not you ever had a gaggle of grown-ups surrounding you, may you know today that your Father delights in you. He rejoices over you. He sings over you, grinning over your every squawk and squeal. And may the knowledge of how treasured you are become a reservoir for you . . . a deep reservoir of joy.