Tag Archive: joy


Living Large

Living Large
We live such timid lives, worried about the future and what will become of us. Perhaps what’s behind it is that (between you and I) we wonder if this present life is all there is and we want to hedge our bets. We want security, and we want to make sure we have fun now and not just in some far off future.

But if we really KNOW He has risen, and that we will share that wonderful destiny – we can afford to live a bigger life. We can give more freely of our time, we can love without holding back, unguarded and free. We can care less about our troubles because we really do know it will be all right, that we are affirmed and valued infinitely by the One who made us.

Do we live here and now in this truth? If we have based our lives on what the Gospel really promises, we can relax. It doesn’t mean we live irresponsibly; I guess the way to say it is to be carefree but not careless. We must still take care of business, but now we can do it in a new, unhurried way.

And that the best really is is yet to come.

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Hope

When we’re young and we have our whole lives in front if us, we feel like we’ll live forever. We dream, plan, and have hopes for marriage, career, and where we’ll live, and thoughts of our own mortality hardly enter our thinking. But that’s an illusion: dreams fade, our bodies age, life happens and friends change, move away and start to die. If our hopes start and end with this life, we start to feel a sense of despair.

We need a better hope.

God enters time. He incarnates into a historical Person who teaches, lives, dies, and then – incredibly – lives again. Now either this is a religious legend or something that really happened. And if it really happened, EVERYTHING changes. We have a real hope.

The raw historical fact of the resurrection means there really is a God who has provided for our guilt; that HE came for US, so that we could have a real future that will outlast this life.

Your character is a function of your hope. Despairing people are cynical and unhappy; but if Jesus really lives, we have a better hope. We don’t dodge the sorrow and hassle of this life, but we are better equipped to deal with it: we can live with integrity and joy whether we’re suffering or happy.

Thoughts on Mid-Life

So much is changing; so much of what is dear is passing out of our hands. Kids are growing up; friends are moving away or passing away. Parents get older, we get older (it happened so fast), and we start to realize some cherished dreams may never happen. I hate change, but it’s coming, like it or not; and there’s more on the way.

But amidst all this change I’ve met God, and know that utter satisfaction is there, joy beyond any expectation. At times my life feels shot through with streaks of gold, glowing realizations of His concrete presence in my life. There’s a richness as Christ becomes more real, such a practical fact in life coupled with a sense that this at last is what I was made for. Perhaps the realization of life’s brevity brings these weightier matters into focus. God’s reality in my life far outweighs what I fear I’m losing… but it’s so easy to lose perspective.

Feelings (such powerful motivators) change and daily the choice lies before us to trust or mourn. “In you, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed…” (Ps. 31:1). All of Psalm 31 speaks to this dichotomy: feelings versus the choice to trust God.

I’ve found memorization of scripture very beneficial. It sort of gets it down inside of you and preaches encouragement to your insides. It stabilizes our emotions and nourishes the heart, and I suppose it’s a way of meditating on God’s word.

At times I feel I’m balanced on a razor’s edge between unspeakable joy and despair. Whatever the case, one can’t go back, and an overindulgence in nostalgia just feels unhealthy. God is bigger than my feelings anyways.

There are still adventures to be had. Onwards, then: I choose joy.

…By not trying to be.

 

When someone is trying to be popular, they’ll try very hard to understand the latest trends, to ingratiate themselves to others, and will become unpopular bores in the end. It’s only when they start to look outside themselves that they become interesting to others.

 

A similar principle happens in the pursuit of happiness. When we make this our goal, we’re focused on what we want; we’re turned inwards, and the harder we try, the more it eludes us. “Looking for love in all the wrong places”, we may drug ourselves with possessions, adrenaline sports, sex, alcohol, or partying, but we’re really just running from our own emptiness.

 

So what’s the secret of being happy?

 

Look outside yourself. Love God first, and then love to others as valuable because they are made in His image. Take humility and service as first principles; don’t do them because they will make you feel good about yourself (they won’t always do that), but because reaching out to others in love is right. Make your life about this, rather than your own satisfaction, and you’ll find everything else thrown in.

 

And you’ll notice (not when you’re looking for it, but when you look back) that the texture of your life starts to take on joy; a deep, soul satisfying thing of which happiness is merely the froth of – for you will have found what you were made for.

Insecurity

Yesterday, I had a bad day at work. My computer’s hard drive had a meltdown, and several days of rework loom ahead of me. It’s frustrating and stressful.

Why? I’m working no more or less than if everything was fine, but my emotions can make a normal day nightmarish. Maybe the problem was that I was worried my employers would wonder why I wasn’t catching up faster.

I’m worried about what others think of me. I compare. I get stressed and fume and fret. I feel the need to justify my existence, and when I fall short, I feel terrible.

But then I have to ask where my security lies. Am I really yielded to Him, or am I having trouble letting go of my own self-inflated ideas of importance? We are significant because God made us and  was willing to die to redeem us.

When I determine that my ultimate source and employer is God, a lot of the stress evaporates.