Yes, that’s me above still on vacation, now with just our three grandkids. They do keep us hopping and playing, which is good for the soul. Every time I get the chance to ski, I dread jumping into the cold water, wondering if I still have what it takes to get up on the skis, drop one, and get my back foot into the slalom ski without crashing into the water.
None of it comes easy these days, but there is a moment when my back foot settles into the single ski, and everything seems is as it should be in the universe. I peel out across the wake, slicing through the glassy water, exhilarated to be alive in the Creation. I love that moment when it all comes together, and everything else fades away. God made us for joy, to fully embrace those moments when we feel most alive, whether that’s at the end of a ski rope, admiring the flowers growing in your garden, tucking a grandkid into bed, or wiggling your toes in the warm sand of a beach.
Don’t miss the joys of life, especially when you go through your darker days. God made the world for us to enjoy, and even though it has been marred by human brokenness, there is always joy to be had and a kingdom unfolding around you. I thought of all that this morning on my morning walk with Zoey through the woods, and here’s where I found God directing my thoughts:
As much as God wants us to embrace joy, his kingdom is not a fairy tale. It emerges not from our wish list but the devastating ruins of a broken Creation.
Who doesn’t face horrible circumstances and destructive ambitions in day-to-day life? We forget that because most serve their own image of being above the ravages of life, and thus, we think we’re the only ones who are confronted with horrific circumstances or dark temptations. And yet, we are all in the midst of them at some point, or soon will be again. Life has many painful seasons.
It is also true that everyone one of us has dreams we wish God would fulfill. What if I had enough money not to worry about paying the bills? Or, how easy would life be if my child wasn’t battling cancer? Or, I would love to work with people that weren’t so given to gossip and tearing each other apart?
Many of our prayers arise out of our desires for life as we wish it were. And, because most of our wish-list is truly not in our best interest, nor is it grounded in the ways Father works to reveal his glory, we are endlessly frustrated that he won’t give us the things we pray for most ardently. That’s where accusations against God’s existence or his love begin, or where doubt takes root, wondering if it is my fault for not having enough faith or if he is punishing me for something I’ve done wrong.
Don’t look to your fantasies and ask him to serve them if you want to see Father at work in you. Instead, hold the reality of your circumstances up to God’s gaze and see how he reveals himself in their midst. You are not the victim of any circumstances, no matter how much you may have been wronged. You are a citizen of a higher kingdom that can transform any circumstance into a place where God can reveal his glory. Ponder your challenges with him over days and weeks if need be, even inviting two or three other sensitive Jesus-followers into your story and see what he reveals.
Ask him to show you how he sees your circumstance and what path he is cutting for you to get through it and, in the process, make you a freer person and a better lover of the world. If there’s a miracle to be had that changes the circumstance, you’ll find it there. If not, you’ll find grace sufficient not only to endure but also to move on in joy.
When you start with what is, you can find your way into what God wants it to be. His kingdom is not the fulfillment of our fantasies or the path that brings us the most ease. Often his path will challenge us to the core, but where a willing heart locks on to the will of God, anything can happen, and great joy can come even in the most painful stretches of our journeys.
As a side note, no, I’m not posting as many blogs these days. That’s partly because of the nature of my life and at the moment and some other roads God has invited me down, and partly because I’ve provided my best encouragements over the last twenty years into a new devotional called Live Loved Free Full. I’m hoping its brief daily thoughts can help you focus your heart on the things that matter most inside Father’s love.
If you want to stay up with what is occurring in my life and heart these days, check out The God Journey’s most recent episodes. I’ve never been more excited about what God is doing in our world, even as circumstances grow darker around us. God is raising up people from all over the world, grounded in his love and willing to follow however he leads them.
If you stopped listening to The God Journey because you got the gist of the things Brad and I talked about over the years, I understand. We never intended people to listen forever. But Brad has gone on to other things God asked of him, and Kyle Rice of Wyoming has become a regular co-host. His perspective as a mid-thirties husband and father and his experience and training in youth and mental health have provided some fresh fodder for us to explore.
Here are some of the recent ones I don’t think you’ll want to miss:
- The Church Jesus Modeled
- Masculinity and Femininity
- Forgive Us Our Trespasses
- And don’t miss tomorrow’s episode with Luis as we discuss the My Friend Luis podcast and some recent discoveries on his own journey: The Beauty of Selflessness (I will post the link here tomorrow.)