The Joy of the Lord and Fervor in Truth

Can one ever fully record the sweetness of the wonders that God does in their life? Pen and paper becomes intimidating to me at times when I want to write down what it is that God is doing with me. It just doesn’t seem like enough; not enough paper, ink or time. I can attempt to capture a glimpse of it all, but I know ahead of time that I will fail. There is nothing about me , my gift of writing or anything else I could put forth that could ever full engulf the wonders of God. But when I work up the nerve, time, and confidence, I make my attempts…exemplified in words such as these.

This morning in chapel was the last official gathering of Jessup students before the much anticipated Spring Break was to come upon us. Naturally, we took time to gather in chairs around our forged wooden cross that we have for worship purposes. It was time to celebrate together as one body the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our savior!

These past 10 days or so have been intimidating. My viewpoint has been tweaked, my perspective broadened, my mind exhausted, and my heart strengthened.

I went through two minor surgeries just last week.  They were unexpected; short, but the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life, I think. I have quite a low pain tolerance in the first place, but still felt like it was more than I could bear. In fact, I did have a moment of questioning the Lord about His promise to us that He would not give us more than we can bear. It was the same surgery twice. After coming out of the first one, I hoped to God I would never have to go through that again. Less than 48 hours later, I did. But I bore it and it apparently wasn’t too much for me because God never lies; He is relentlessly true to His promises.

I asked God, “Lord, you obviously want me to be broken right now….why? Show me why.” I just love how utterly direct and obvious God is at times;  the simple “this life is not about you” answer came flying my way. That may sound so elementary, cheesy, or typical, but that mere five word statement breaks down into so much more.

First of all, my body…was not designed to be eternal. It’s going to have problems and let me just tell you how much severe pain in my body makes me long more and more for Jesus to come back so I can have my eternal, problem-less body once and for all!

Two, my small amounts of physical pain are just small reminders that this life here on earth is about suffering for Christ Jesus, not about living in pleasure. My endurance of sin-engrossed life here in this world is something I have to bear with the knowledge that my time here is temporary, but while I am here, I was given a duty…and that is to live and act in a manner that expands the kingdom of God. This life is not about me.

Lastly, God is good all the time; despite all circumstances. Although it’s a theology that most Christians will acknowledge as truth, how many will actually live their lives out in a way that proves they believe that their God is good no matter what is occurring in their lives. Typically, when unfortunate events occur and one’s world seems to feel like it’s about to collapse, it’s quite easy to dismiss the concept that God is good.

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good and His love endures forever

For me, I will acknowledge it in times of trouble, even speak it out loud: “God is good all the time”, I’ll say to myself or someone else who sees my hurt. But then I keep on worrying and calling out to God louder and louder as if He doesn’t hear me, asking Him to heal my hurt and change my situation. If I truly believed deep down in my heart that He is good all the time, wouldn’t my worry and desperate pleas for change be naturally set aside? It seems like they should. I have to know that God would never purposefully inflict pain upon my life; rather, he allows it when necessary and if pain were not present in different forms then this world would be not be full of sin. But the world is sinful, thus life is painful, but God remains a good God.

Here is the best part, though: the joy of the LORD! The joy of the Lord is not attached to anything of this world. It doesn’t depend upon our emotions, relationships, the weather, world happenings, the end of or beginning of lives, nothing. It is what it is-cannot be affected by any worldly force and can be drawn upon at anytime, anywhere. I realized this past week as I was grappling with so many different concepts, pains, confusions, and disappointments that I can have joy regardless of my mood or whether my life is thriving or ready to collapse. To anyone who does not know Jesus, this kind of joy will make absolutely no sense…because it’s not a product of this world. Instead, it’s a gift from a good God who loves us and gave everything to save us from our own joyless and works-dependent natures.

So we were celebrating Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross this morning in chapel and all I could feel is the joy of the Lord and while marveling at it, I thought to myself, “how could anyone not  want to share this joy with others?” How  could they not be itching to see their close friends and family experience the same undying and constant joy that they have? How could I let a day pass without making someone around me wonder why I act, why I speak, why I live the way that I do? I want nothing but for people to be confused by my joy. I don’t want them to think I’m a happy Christian because I have attained worldly happiness.   I want them to see me when my circumstances completely suck, but I can still have the joy of Jesus. It’s a miracle and by no means can the human eye (believing or not) ever overlook a miracle.

And with that joy comes fervor. I met an individual not long ago and through my intermittent exchange of words with him, I have been perplexed by how much he loves God and acts in a way that makes me think Jesus is going to be back in less than a month. He has his nose in scripture whenever I see him and “what’s new in your life?” he would answer by explaining, with great excitement, what the Spirit has most recently been revealing to him. I hardly know the dude himself because our conversations thus far have consisted of practically nothing but him explaining what he has been exploring in the Word. One day I decided to be facetious and ask him, “Why do you love theology so much?” He looked confused, as if I should know the answer to that question. And I did know, but I wanted to hear what he would say. He explained then to me that he could never get to know God deep enough. All he could do is keep getting in the Word and going deeper all the time because the better he knows and understands the heart of his creator savior, the better he can be a disciple and disciple others.

He blew me away. This guy doesn’t care to spend his energy and efforts much elsewhere other than growing in the Lord…or so it appears. Does this make him perfect, better or on a pedestal? Sweet Lord, no.  But I had never seen such a fervent attitude toward the gospel and one’s relationship with God at the same time. Does he know of his own fervor or recognize what he’s doing right? Maybe, but he certainly isn’t forging good actions in the arrogant name of looking like a great Christan. One of the greatest things about following the Lord is that we often are not the first ones to see the fruits of our labor and God’s labor in us. This keeps pride away;  humility is a part of the package deal.

 Romans 12:11- Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Fervor and passion for God, His word, and mission for us is a beautiful thing. By adopting it, we automatically don’t have to strive to fight our weaknesses anymore. Fervor takes you to a place, an attitude that covers all the bases. One cannot be fully focused on God and also give attention to idols. Passion for the gospel automatically replaces any form of idolatry we could ever put in our lives. And for myself? I know this well. When I leave passion on the doorstep, the fights within the house of my heart are gnarly and a huge struggle. It’s all I can do to keep sin and idolatry at bay. But when I let the joy and fervor and excitement of Jesus Christ and His gospel truth into the house, weaknesses and struggle tremble with fear and rush out as fast as their metaphorical feet will carry them.

I cannot begin to imagine my life without Christ. This world is aching and hurting and to reside here is just plain hard. How do people do it with Jesus? I could not tell you or even fathom. All I know is that today I am reestablishing the fact, with GREAT JOY AND FERVOR, that nothing in this life could possibly snatch me away from my life with a  purpose… which is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior forever. Amen.

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