It is April as I write. There were recently a few warm days and a lovely spring rain. I looked out the window this morning and was shocked by the lushness of the landscape. I was amazed by the beauty of it all. It nearly took my breath away.
My memories had faded through the long winter. Months of brown grass, naked trees, and gray skies had stolen my perspective. I had forgotten the hope of spring, the joy that comes from new life.
Spring is an annual reminder of the power of discouragement and the frailty of hope. I am learning to walk in the understanding that, for the believer, the grayness is always, always temporary. Hope springs eternal.
There have been rumblings about this philosophy of heavenly focus. Some say Christians fail to realize the enjoyment God intended in earthly living because they are living for promise, not enjoying today. I must enthusiastically disagree.
I am enthusiastic about this because of what I have experienced in my journey to joy. I am talking here about genuine joy – transcendent, otherworldly joy. I truly did not experience this until I learned, through hardship, to hold on for dear life to the Rock. It was through this holding on that I began to truly live, to experience a joy that would permeate my soul.
I never want to go back to the ordinary, to a focus on the here and now. Given the politics of the day and the standard, disturbing news commentary, I’ll gladly set my sights on a higher purpose for living. No, the ordinary is a dull, lifeless existence.
I need to clarify here that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is temporal. Happiness is a roller coaster, dependent on the highs and lows of life. In all honesty, I’ve had days of being quite unhappy, especially when watching my dear mother suffer toward the end of her life. I can’t say I’m happy on those days when pain prevents me from being productive.
Happiness is a human emotion.
But genuine joy is spiritual. It is from God. (Gal. 5:22) And once you have received it through trust in Christ, it is a permanent gifting. Even on those days when circumstances cause unhappiness, there is still joy in knowing Whose you are, in knowing that what truly matters is unchanging, and in knowing the temporal trials of this world will pass away and will be replaced by unimaginable glory. What you know to be true propels you forward with confidence.
Because we were created in God’s image, we can only be filled and fulfilled in His presence. We were created and redeemed to play a role in the only drama that matters – the events leading to and culminating in the return of Jesus Christ. The pursuit of anything else will leave us wanting, a wanting we may not even realize because we have yet to taste what is better.
Yes, we must choose to hope, not because we want to bypass anything here, but because we want to live this life to the full.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Heaven is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are drawn in, a great many other things in nature will begin to come right.”
Are you in a winter period of your life? Has the grayness stolen your hope? Know that it’s temporary.
Jesus is our perfect example of hope and heavenly focus. He fixed His eyes on the joy set before Him in order to endure the cross.
With our eyes on the prize, we will run the race with joy. Unfathomable glory awaits.
Joy in Jesus,