The Smile of God (Advent 2017)

Over Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of playing with Deborah’s niece and nephews.  While I’m sure the parents were happy for the help, I was in it for purely selfish reasons.  A smile.

In playing with toddlers, I go all in: getting down on the floor, being imaginative and goofy, readying myself for endless games of peek-a-boo, and riding down corkscrew slides that were designed for someone a quarter of my size.  The payoff: a smile.  Sharing a moment of connection and the sheer joy of life with another.

Overall these scenes are reflective of my relationship with God: mutual enjoyment and pleasure.  I am beloved; God delights in me.  On most days, I live this reality: smiling as together we experience the joy of intimate and confident trust.

You are beloved; God delights in you.

But then there are other days.  The heaviness of the world falls upon me.  God seems distant or uninterested.  My anxiety spikes and depression descends.

This past week, I had a string of those kind of days.  The general pressures of life and the beginning of the holidays just seemed to be too much.  And while I don’t believe there’s ever a day that God’s heart is not fully good and smiling upon me, it sure did feel that way.

Then I read the Advent texts for the week and was struck by this petition: God All-Powerful, accept us again. Smile down on us and save us!  (Psalm 80:19, ERV)  Three times – Psalm 80:3 7, 19 – the psalmist repeats this refrain. But rather than begging for favor, I heard the cry as a personal plea, resting in the assurance of previous encounters and longing for acceptance once again.

Smile down and save!  It’s been my meditation for the week and may become my prayer through the Christmas season.  So be of good cheer and may you also know the joy of deep connection with God and all around.  And even on the low days, may you smile freely knowing there’s always enough to go around.


For Reflection:

  1. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine God smiling at you. What does this idea stir up in you? Where does it resonate with your experience? Where do you feel resistance?
  2. What in your life needs God’s smile right now?
  3. Who in your life would be encouraged by your smile today?