When in college, every Saturday after Thanksgiving, I played in the "Turkey Bowl" (the original and true Turkey Bowl, not one of the ten thousand played across the nation which are but cheap imitations). Before this collar-bone-cracking, skull-smashing game of tackle football, the 2 best players would pick their teams. I always knew I'd be chosen last, like I had some kind of disease they might catch from me if I were on their team. By the time the picks dwindled down to me, the captain with last pick would "choose" me with as much enthusiasm as if he'd just been asked to shovel a mountain of manure.
I'm glad God didn't choose his children with such "enthusiasm". I can see the Father smiling as he wrote the names of his chosen ones in his book. He elected his own with joy and excitement, not in compulsion. He saved because it brought him pleasure and joy. God inscribed his children's names on his palms with a happy flourish. Jesus said it was his Father's pleasure to give his children the kingdom.
And can you imagine Jesus grumbling and dragging his feet about his role in the Father's rescue mission? "Alright, I guess I'll go if I really, really have to." No, I can't imagine it either. Jesus was delighted to do his Father's will. And even now, Jesus can't wait to enthrall us with his majesty and engulf us in his beauty. For he knows how much joy we'll receive from seeing his glory. He takes pleasure in our pleasure in him. Can you detect Jesus' excitement in the following words he spoke to his friends just before he died?
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God: believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." John 14:1-3 (ESV)
Recently my daughter Beth visited some friends for a couple weeks. Since we'd moved into our home, I'd never gotten around to remodeling her room, so when she left town I decided to bless her by doing an Extreme Room Makeover. I painted the walls in 2 colors she'd told me she liked. I bought a large Schefflera plant and a stylish pot for it, as well as an elegant chrome watering can with a long, slender spout. I replaced the knobs on her dresser with a wild variety of knobs, from Celtic-looking knobs to pewter leaves. I built a cool bookshelf and an end table Frank Lloyd Wright would envy. Purchased sleek looking lamps. Hung a huge poster of a Mark Rothko painting (one of her favorite artists) above the dresser, placed an antique hope chest at the foot of her bed.
What surprised me was how excited I began to feel as I anticipated Beth's return. The more I worked on her room, the more I wanted to add new delights for her. The more my joy welled up at the prospect of seeing her face when she opened the door.
And then I thought of Jesus preparing a place for us. What joy he must have in preparing a place for us and anticipating our homecoming! If I experienced such joy in preparing a room for my daughter, what gladness must Jesus feel as he waits to show us his glory.
How the Father must have been smiling when he wrote our names in heaven.
Why not take a moment and tell the Father how glad you are he chose you and thank Jesus for the wonder you anticipate when you look into the face of joy.
By the way, Beth really liked her room.