THE ABIDING LIFE
"Whatcha know good?"
Of Joy and Purpose in Life
By Gwen Sellers
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Another pervasive lie I see is that if something isn't difficult, it isn't valuable. I joke about "suffering for the Lord." Somehow my natural response to being asked to obey God is that it is going to be a miserable experience for me. Really? God designed me uniquely, on purpose, and for a purpose. I am energized when I function in my calling. Sure, sometimes there will be suffering for the Lord. But when I'm functioning in my calling, it should mostly be energizing. Maybe physically exhausting, but the joy of the Lord should be there. I get nervous when I start to enjoy my life too much. I start thinking I must not be obeying because life isn't difficult. Since when did circumstances — whether pleasant or unpleasant — become the litmus test for whether I'm obeying God? Do I really think God is most pleased when I'm struggling and not when I'm enjoying the life He's given me?
One of my mentor friends said it well when she told me that she is learning that God enjoys her enjoyment. God takes pleasure in us when we take pleasure in the gifts He gives us. This friend finds great pleasure in doing puzzles. Now, rather than feel guilty for "wasting time" doing a puzzle, she can do it knowing that God is delighting in her. It's a gift He's given her for her refreshment. How cool is that?
I love that my grandfather enjoyed life so much. He knew how to take pleasure in the good things. What I didn't mention in describing him is how many health problems he had. Heart surgeries, kidney problems, orthopedic problems, skin cancer. He never complained, at least not to me. He wanted to know what I was doing, how I was enjoying life. He remained as active as he could — road trips, parties, volunteering at the library, tinkering in the garage, pushing papers. He focused on the good things. Not in a rose-colored glasses, ignorance is bliss kind of way, but in a why waste time complaining when there is so much to be enjoyed kind of way.
To me, this is an example of what it means to live out Philippians 4:8-9, which says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." God wants me to focus on that which is good and to delight in the pleasures He gives. He also wants me to be obedient and to endure through struggles. It's the whole spectrum of experience. Rejoicing in the things to be rejoiced in, mourning in the things to be mourned, enduring hardship and suffering, being still and resting in Him, and allowing God to delight my heart. It's fully receiving God's gifts in all of what life brings.
I'm learning that my life purpose has less to do with things I deem as accomplishments or success and more to do with understanding who God made me to be and being her. It isn't about achieving something through hard work, "suffering for the Lord," or ignoring God's call for my own sense of comfort or control. It's about engaging with Him fully in the context of His unique design of me so that He can be made known. Yes, it will involve hard work and some suffering. It will also include exhilaration, happiness, sadness, pain, healing, confusion, vision, etc. The majority of it will probably feel like lots of normal days where it seems not much is happening. But abiding is what I'm called to, and it means remaining connected with Christ through all seasons. Ultimately abiding should result in deep joy.
I love this from the Westminster Larger Catechism: "Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever." And one of my favorites from Jesus: "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:8-11). We glorify God by bearing fruit, which is done by abiding, and abiding brings joy both to us and to God. Here's another favorite verse: "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing" (Zephaniah 3:17). What an awesome God we serve!
Image Credit: Roo Reynalds; "You Are Here"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Health-Wellness | Personal-Life
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Published on 5-3-15