May 18, 2005

Discovering the Power of Joy (a laptop backlog entry)

How has my understanding of God’s will and purpose for my life changed as a result of studying the book of Acts this year in BSF? I know the first answer to the question “Why am I here?” is simply this. To be a witness to the gospel of Christ and what I have seen God do. Similar to Paul’s commission. It’s also the commission that Jesus himself gave to all the disciples before he ascended into heaven. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Samaria and the whole world.” “Go, and make disciples”. There are a lot of details to be worked out. But that is the ultimate goal; that is the eternal fruit.

God’s specific plans for me and his priorities are different from mine. That has caused some discomfort and some resistance from me. To be honest, it still does. I want to be happy, comfortable, and enjoy life while I’m here on earth. I want low stress, my needs and wants abundantly met. In this culture, I have learned that it’s not enough just to have my needs met, but they should be met instantly. I don’t want to wait for things. I want to have control over my time, my environment, my job, my food cravings catered to, to be able to shop when I want to shop, and to have the things that I think I should have. I want to enjoy time with friends. I don’t like change too much, so I would like it on my terms and to keep the things that I want to keep. I want to experience the happiness, comfort and affection of loving a special man and having a good marriage. I want to feel accepted, loved and that I have a secure place and know where I belong in this world. I want to feel worthy of the respect of others. Some of these things are not bad things. Some of these things are pure selfishness. Some of these things are going along with the expectations and definitions of the world.

God has good plans, but they don’t place a priority on my happiness and enjoyment of the details and circumstances of my life. Not that he wants me to be miserable and that pleasure and enjoyment are automatically wrong or contrary to God’s plan. God has something deeper and more real, though. Joy. Joy does not depend on any outside circumstances, experiences, or even emotions (which are fleeting and are mere responses). Joy is rooted in deep knowledge and confidence in real truth. Joy gives strength, hope, and peace in all circumstances. Joy grasps God’s unfailing love and rock solid character to provide a foundation. Joy allows believers to obey willingly and endure life’s trials and suffering. Not just endure, but overcome and grow through the suffering- giving glory to God and witnessing to the world the power and truth of the gospel.

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