Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Joyous Strength

I've been at this Christian thing for a while. A lot of times I relate to King Solomon: there's nothing new under the sun. I can quote Bible verses fairly accurately off the top of my head and can sing more worship songs than anyone (save God) could care to hear (If you doubt that - ask the art department where I work. They've been treated to a rousing rendition of "Father Abraham.) It's easy to get into a routine - a habitual expectation of how God will show up in my life. However, every once in a while, my arrogance is rocked and I realize that I have even begun to understand the depths of the mysteries of God. In short, I learn something new.

Nehemiah 8:10 states " . . .Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." I'm not sure when I first heard this, but it's been familiar to me for a long while. I've even suggested it to be used on Christian product. And yet, as I sat in the car after a frustrating day and listened to Chris Tomlin sing "How Great is Our God' it took on new meaning. I guess because I've always kind of twisted the verse in my mind to mean that when we rest in God, He provides us strength and joy. In reality, that's not at all what the verse says. The only joy that is talked about is God's. His joy, His pleasure that should be our focus. When we're focused on bringing Him glory, we're not worried about ourselves and our petty desires. We're not even focused on the blessings that God's given us. Our total focus is on God's happiness. Through this we get our strength. Our joy isn't the provision for our strength; His joy is. Because of it, we have reason to stop grieving. We have desire to move forward. And we have all the provision we need for today.

As humans we strive to avoid pain and seek pleasure. God's Word tells us to seek His pleasure. Not because of what it will get us, but because His joy is the only thing that can fill the "God-shape hole" that each of us have (a concept that was, oddly enough, originally presented by Pascal - a scientist.) We develop more and more into the person that God's created us to be, when we seek Him above all else. Only then, do we build strength.

Mercy Me's new song states what our heart's desire should be:

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

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