Growing up with a father from the greatest generation was interesting, to say the least. My father was a fighter pilot during World War II, flying the coveted P-51 Mustang. During that war he flew 69 missions, but the cost to him personally was great. As I look back at my father’s life and behavior and knowing what I know now about Post-traumatic stress disorder, there is no doubt in my mind that he suffered the after effect of being a close air support of a combat pilot.
As I reached my teenage years, I remember my father working twelve to fourteen hours a day, usually six days a week, working two if not three jobs. One job was fulltime, the other two were part-time. Being a normal teen, I split up my time between school, work, and sports, rarely seeing my father except at the occasional evening meal. The older I got the further removed I became, but when I decided in my senior year of high school to join the Marines–that really got his attention. All of the sudden my father and I started to spend more time together. Personally, I believe he woke up one day and realized that my teen years had passed him by and he was trying to make up for lost time. But as someone once said to me, “time and tide wait for no man,” I left home in July 1969 for boot camp at Parris Island South Carolina, not to return home until six months later.
Over the years, I have wondered if there was any part of my life that my father was pleased with. I knew he was relieved when I graduated from high school. He would ask me at least once a week if I would graduate, and my answer was the same, “Don’t worry dad, I’ll make it.” I’m not sure he believed me, but I guess when I came home with my cap and gown his face showed a little relief. Yet, over the years I often wondered if he was pleased with how I turned out by the time he died. My father unfortunately died at the young age of 47 by the hands of a drunk driver. So, you can understand why I have questions about whether or not I pleased him as a son.
When it comes to pleasing God, I also wonder if I am on the right track. I wonder if He is pleased with the way I’m turning out as one of His children. I know this sounds a little absurd, but when I wake up in the morning does it bring a smile to His face? Does God talk to His angels and say something like, “See that old man down there in Rome New York, he’s got his act together. I couldn’t be more pleased.” I know, a little crazy right? Welcome to my spiritual world.
Having given you a little peak into my desire to please God and my desire for evidence that I’m on the right track, you will understand how I struggle wrapping my head around King David’s proclamation found in Psalm 41:11, where he says, “By this I know that you are well pleased with me, because my enemy does not triumph over me.” The first thought that came in mind was, “Is this all the evidence I need to show that I am on the right road to pleasing God?” Surely it cannot be that simple. Is David saying all I have to do is stand my ground against my enemies (who are God’s enemies), fight for a win, make my enemies lose… I triumph… God’s score 1 enemies score 0?
Now, I don’t want to make seeking the evidence that we are pleasing God complicated. Yet, I also don’t want to make it an oversimplification either. What I do believe is that somewhere in the middle ground we can see the evidence of God’s pleasure with us. So, what is the evidence that you and I are pleasing God?
FIRST, AND FOREMOST—CHRIST IS WITH US: R.C. Sproul once wrote, “The journey has but one guarantee: Christ promises to go with us and bring us out the other side. Our Lord finishes what He starts. He does not abort His handiwork in the middle of its creation.”
This thought of Sproul is seen in Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” The fact of the matter is Jesus never deserts us, never leaves us hanging. King David completely understood that he was pleasing God because no enemy would ever triumph over him as long as He was tied him. The truth of the matter is, we are completely tied to God through our relationship with Jesus our Savior and that bond cannot be broke by anyone! Most of all, there is not one enemy of God and His children that can have victory over them.
SECOND, GOD HAS CREATED US WITH PURPOSE: God has created us for the purpose of good works so that we might walk in them (Eph.2:10) Sproul was right when he says, “He does not abort His handiwork in the middle of its creation.” The evidence that we are pleasing God is seen in the fact that He has created us for the purpose doing good works. We can know that we are a pleasure to God because we are being created with the purpose of doing good works.
For a long time, I have lived under the belief that God creating me for the purpose of good works was a one shot deal. I use to think that once I was born again that God’s creative work was all done. And as 2 Corinthians says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (NIV) End of story, right? Not quite. Just as a baby is born into this world, he or she may have been born with all the equipment needed to make a go at life possible but it doesn’t mean that at five years old they are going to take over Wall Street. And we are the same concerning our spiritual life. God is till in the process of His creative work in making us more Christ-like. Know this, the evidence of us pleasing God is found in the fact that He is not done creating us for the purpose of doing what He wants us to do for Him. Growing up in Christ, He continues to mature us in Christ for the purpose of doing good, being good, and finishing good, in our walk with Him.
Yes, there are at times our enemies, God’s enemies win a battle or two but they cannot claim victory over a child of God. We are the triumphal ones, we are battled scared—yes, we walk with a spiritual limp—yes, we give up spiritual ground—yes, sometimes. But in all we can say as King David did, “By this I know that you are well pleased with me, because my enemy does not triumph over me.” Take courage my dear brothers and sister in Christ—God is not done with us yet and He will not abort His creative work in us—God’s Score 100% His enemies—0%. And keep seeking God’s pleasure and He will smile down on you.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you Joy in Jesus!