Satiety

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure…

…You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:8-9, 11

Not many days ago, I was talking with someone about a Bible study group, and in the course of conversation, it was lightheartedly suggested that one member would probably be happier with a beer and a movie. Immediately, I was struck by two thoughts.

First, I have been guilty of the same in my past and only by the grace of God as He has walked with me through many dark valleys of pain have I come to enjoy His presence more and more.

And secondly, how tragic. Sincerely tragic.

On one hand, we have a fermented beverage and a couple of hours’ worth of watching adults play-pretend in front of a camera. On the other hand, we are offered the very Word and Presence of the Most High God, Creator of all things including fermented beverages, adults, and the ability to make cameras. The path of life. Fullness of joy. Pleasures forevermore.

Perhaps because I have been reading in John’s gospel, I was reminded of the sixth chapter in which the Lord miraculously multiplies a few loaves and a couple of fish to feed a horde of people. The very next day, they chase Him down only to ask Him, “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” (John 6:30).

On that long-ago day, a multitude of people were offered the Bread of Life and preferred to see a miraculous sign that possibly included breakfast (or so they seem to imply). Discouraged when the Lord did not perform according to their expectations, many turned away (John 6:66).

Too often, we also prefer the gifts to the Giver of all good gifts. Too often, we choose the cheap trinkets and baubles of this world to the spiritual wealth and the immense and uncountable riches of grace found in the presence of God.

Oh, Church! How desperately we need to realign our desires! For as long as we would be more content with mere entertainments instead of indulging ourselves in God and in His law, the world will never see the power of the Gospel at work in us. If our lives and choices do not reflect that our God is, in Himself, truly delightful, how can we expect anyone else to believe it?

…for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
Psalms 119:47-48

Adonai who sanctifies us, we borrow from David’s own prayers today as we ask that You will turn open our eyes so that we may behold wondrous things out of Your Law and turn our eyes from worthless things. Incline our hearts to Your testimonies and not to selfish pursuits. Forgive us, and deliver us from our own propensity to selfishness! Search us and know our hearts; try us and know our thoughts. If there is any offensive way in us, help us to let it go and lead us in the way everlasting! 

 

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Wealth

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 1:16-18

I am a wealthy woman.

Of course, I am American and as such am a member of an affluent society. It is true that I have a house that does not (often) leak, a vehicle that runs, food on the table every day (not to mention the table itself), clean water, and enough clothing for each member of my family. This alone is nearly incomprehensible wealth to so many, and I am exceedingly thankful for every bit of it. However, these things are not the riches that filled my heart with joy this past weekend, spilling over into praise for my God.  Indeed, while these earthly riches are most excellent,  I count my true fortune in the sheer joy of undeserved salvation, the splendor and majesty of my King and His creation, and the precious fellowship of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

It all started early on Friday with a field trip to a local farm. It was a glorious fall day, and I was struck both by the beauty of the area I live in and the plenitude of good friends to share in it. I recalled a time when I was friendless; alone and mired in despair so dense that I could see nothing but hopelessness. I was blind, and it was here that God found me and began to do a work in my heart, replacing self-loathing and self-focus with love and adoration of Him, healing my blindness and helping me to see the Truth that would set me free, teaching me to be a friend to others and so finding myself abundantly blessed with friendship in return.

Later that afternoon, my family met other friends for a portrait swap–we took their family pic and they took ours. I had more moments of amazement at the resplendence of Creation, more reveling in the immensity of my family in Christ. The contrast to the spiritual poverty of the old me was stunning.

The next day brought still more treasure; still more awareness of the fingerprints of the Almighty upon His creation as we took a scenic drive to a natural area. Saturday also brought to mind  the delight in being a part of the Body of Christ as I photographed a brother and his soon-to-be bride, trying to capture the thrill of their new love against the backdrop of our Father’s world.

Sunday followed–a day of worship, of talking about the riches of God’s grace to some of my very smallest friends. Afterward was another celebration for a child who used to be in my Sunday class and had just turned five — a dual celebration for me as I watched my 10- and 11-year-old daughters value their little friend as much as they value their peers.

Monday was back to the daily grind, but still I marveled at the astonishing provision God has granted for me to be able to home school. I have stopped worrying about where the money for curriculum will come from, for He has always faithfully provided what we need to fulfill His calling.  Besides the financial elements, He has also provided patience beyond my own lot, conviction to repent openly when my flesh takes over and my own patience snaps, the ability to teach when teaching is not my gift, all the while teaching me to rely completely on Him—and that He is completely reliable.

But there was more to our Monday. It ended with yet another party. A little friend, now four years old, had fought and won a long battle against cancer just over a year ago. The Make A Wish Foundation is now gifting her and her family with a trip to Disney that would otherwise be far beyond their meager means, especially with finances complicated by those many months battling cancer and the continuing medical expense of another daughter with spina bifida. It was such fun to see all the kids who had prayed so diligently for this sweet girl now able to come together and rejoice in her good fortune. I found myself awash in a swirling tide of childish exuberance, laughing and enjoying the celebration with her parents, loving that they still had this child with them to take to Disney.

Today the various parties are over. But I find that I still have merrymaking in my heart — loving my brothers and sisters, worshiping my God who walks with us through trials and grants us seasons of refreshment and festivity. Even when the memory of these moments fades away, I will worship Him still.  Even if somehow all the rest–the breathtaking beauty of nature, the fellowship of friends, the sharing in the joy of others, and the boon of healthy children–even should it all crumble and blow away like ash, the revelry will still continue within.

For even though all of these festivities bring awareness of my non-material opulence, my truest riches are still to be found in Christ alone. He has given, and He may someday take away, yet even if He does, still I will praise Him. He is my portion; He is my wealth.