Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Greetings beloved! I write to you today from the confines of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and ultimately while airborne in transit returning home from a wonderful vacation cruise  with my family.  As I initially packed for the trip, like most people I made sure I had all of the vacation necessities I felt needed. Sunblock…check!  Bathing suit…check!  Beach towel…check!  Jesus… uh oh!  Whoops! Wrong order! Start over.  Jesus….check! Everything else….check!  You see even on your getaways, first and foremost  you have to make sure you pack you some Jesus.  That’s right.  I said pack Jesus.  What? You don’t think our Lord doesn’t enjoy a good getaway too?  We don’t serve a God that only wants you to think about him on Sunday during church, when you’re around your “church friends”,  during your occasional bible study or daily devotion time.  We don’t serve a cruel God who rules with an iron fist waiting to punish you at the slightest slip-up  and wreak havoc in your life.  We don’t serve a God who, despite how majestic and awesome He is, sits so high that we cannot approach Him with even the most seemingly trivial and menial things. And we certainly don’t serve a God who only wants you to call on Him when in trouble, despair or doubt.  Yes He is willing, able and available to help you in your darkest hour but look around.  See all of the beauty of the creation and all of the things we are blessed to experience in this life.   The warmth of the sun on  your skin, the succulent taste of a ripe, juicy strawberry, the wonder of the Grand Canyon, the beauty of a cloud on a clear spring day, the birth and laughter of a child.  Obviously our Creator who created ALL things is a God who enjoys beauty and pleasure.

He even has a sense of humor. Has something ever happened that you just have to shake your head and laugh?  Well if you are laughing and God allowed it to happen, no doubt He is laughing too. All of the goodness of life, God IS.  After all the bible says:   “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3, NKJV) and furthermore “for in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….all things have been created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16-17, NIV). So if He made it all and all creation is for Him, don’t you think you owe it to Him to include Him? He wants to be part of the difficult as well as the wonderful things in your life—including that dream vacation, that courtship with your true love and the celebration of that new job promotion.  He wants to partake  in every part of your life’s journey.  So when you’re going to work–He wants to be there.  In the bathroom, no matter what activity–don’t worry you can talk to Him stench and all.  Sex and intimacy in that God approved marriage–ask Him to bless that too.  Hanging with your friends…. invite him along.  He’s the best company anyway and that Holy Spirit will always be the unmistakable set of ears and eyes that you need.  The Lord is concerned with everything concerning His children.  If it concerns you, it concerns Him.  You will never find anybody who is more invested in the affairs of your life than the Lord himself.

The idea of Practicing God’s presence is a concept I first came across in reading the book  “Thirsting  for God” by Gary L Thomas, but was really made well known by an early Catholic monk named Brother Lawrence.  By the way  “Thirsting For God” is one of those books that is a must read for every Christian who is serious about growing and maturing in God and is brave enough to take an honest look at yourself as the book forces you to confront you:  the good, the hot mess and the ugly that is you.  It is a great tool you can repeatedly go back to in any stage of your relationship with God.  But in any case, when you practice God’s presence, you learn to incorporate God in every aspect of your life.  You learn to be in constant communication and connection with God.  Your spirit stays linked to His spirit:  the Holy Spirit.   The bible says, “…In Your [God’s] presence is fullness of joy. At Your [God’s] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV).  Complete joy and infinite pleasures people!  When we get to heaven and meet Him face to face unhindered by this human flesh and all it’s flaws, we will fully experience the complete enjoyment and ecstasy of God’s presence forever.  But why not get a taste of that here and now in this life?  There is nothing to stop you except you.  I don’t know if you have ever experienced even a sliver of the peace, joy, love and wholeness of being in God’s presence here on earth, but there is nothing like it.  It only leaves you yearning for more.

Let’s face it. Anything you’re doing, if God ain’t in it, it’s all somewhat subpar.  Yeah, you might do things that are inherently enjoyable and  people do experience pleasure and success even when they don’t serve God.  God is good–so he is kind enough where we can experience good things even when we don’t know Him or intentionally include him.  But without God you are a not getting that maximum fullness, the greatest extent of joy, the best it could be.  Without God…things can be good. But with God as the priority…things become great, euphoric, out of this world, next level.  You get it? And believe it or not, you can have joy, pleasure and fulfillment even when things are stormy and not so good.  When dark times, trouble, chaos, confusion and all manner of havoc come knocking at your door,  if you keep God at the center and as your focus, you can surprisingly experience the joy, peace and rest that only God and His presence can give.  It’s just for you to hand your troubles to Him and let Him take control.  Now my disclaimer as always is that I fully understand that this is not always so easy. I struggle with this just as anybody else.   When I am in a bad enough funk or in not such a good space, believe me I can get to the point where the only thing that I’m practicing is tuning God out.  But thank God for growth and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit where I am learning to more diligently practice God’s presence more and more.

So wherever this perpetual journey takes you in life–pack smart, pack right, pack Light. Pack the Bread of Life and you will never grow hungry.  Pack that Living Water and you will never thirst again. Pack the Son that sets you free and makes you free indeed. Pack the Light of the world who drives out every darkness. Pack Light and release those toxic ways, habits, people and situations that bring unnecessary burdensome weight.  Carry Him in your heart and let Him shine His light through you.  Jesus is one package that will never weigh you down, but only lighten you and bring you higher.  He is that oxymoron where the more of Him you get, the lighter you become.  I can’t do this thing called life unless I carry him…and yet still I rise…

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise,