Today I fully embrace my 40’s at the age of 41. I’m the kind of person who reflects and examines pretty often. Too often that produces (nearly) debilitating regret of time lost and wasted whether due to intentional or unintentional sin or lack of doing more radical living for Christ. God’s been doing a work in me for a while now. I’ve stopped trying to figure out the beginnings of times of sin or times of blessing. I know that any good is God and any conviction is God working as the internal presence of the Holy Spirit. So, either way, God wants a contrite heart that says “yes” to whatever He says that follows.
I want my time left (whatever that is) to simply be more and more “yes” to what God says. That certainly demands saying “no” to what God has forbidden. However, I’m just learning more and more that God’s passion for His glory means that I am to be so deeply and joyfully satisfied in all that He is, that to live merely striving to say “no” to sin without it being in light of my “yes” to joy in Him will not produce the right kind of result.
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2
I’ve been working to regain the running form (until interrupted by some busted ribs play ball with college students a few weeks back). I love running. I love its image of the Christian life. Oddly, as much as I love the image, the reality has been lacking for years. I’ve almost run for endurance sake, not necessarily the prize. I’ve run wanting the sin weights gone, but more for a clean conscience than to free me to pursue joy. Isn’t that the point of the race mentioned above as we look to Christ? There was joy set before Him in the satisfying presence of the Father. That joy is so satisfying that only by doing the Father’s will would it be satisfied. So, Christ took joy in enduring the cross because of the joy that would be in His Father’s presence.
That’s the pursuit: Joy in God! Sin, while vile, is a weight and hindrance to the believer’s true joy in God (and all the subsequent joys in the trials we endure in getting to Him). Let us consider that the witnesses of Heb.11 and others proves that the joy in God is worth what we endure, and even what we endure provides a measure of unusual joy.
That’s what I want from this point on… A life that runs hard after joy in God, knowing that no matter what radical thing I’m called to do; no matter what radical thing I call our people to; no matter who thinks I’m nuts or get angry at this pursuit, nothing will rob me of the joy of His salvation of me, including (and especially) the future salvation of being in His presence forevermore.
“Thank you, God, for the mercies that have brought yet another birthday, the joys of my wife and kids, and the long-suffering love extended to me to keep me running (limps and all) after joy in the Son.”