Joy and Contentment - their time has come!
I had a great conversation yesterday with someone from our fellowship about how we evangelicals have a tendency to fixate on denial, suffering, loss, mourning. Her problem, she went on to share, was that she was in a very good place in her life, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. And the strange thing is this - It seems that this 'good space' in which she finds herself has feeling out of step with the Christian community.
I know what she's talking about: There's this sense, almost like an atmosphere, among evangelicals, that joy and contentment are somehow states that fall short of God's purposes. The result is a failure to enjoy the gifts God has given us and the seasons of grace that belong to our lives. That's sad and sick enough to make us weep. Why would we think that joy and contentment shouldn't belong to those who are in Christ? But what's sadder still is that our failure to enjoy the gifts that God has given us make us exponentially more vulnerable to destructive expressions of those same gifts. So the Christian who can't enjoy sexuality and sensual pleasures in his marriage becomes a prime candidate for pornography and infidelity. The person who can't enjoy good food becomes a candidate for anorexia. And my failure to see the sunrise, and taste my incredible coffee in the morning means that I'm depriving myself of the rich store of memories that should be mine when I am led into the value of the shadow.
Eugene Peterson says it this way in The Message: "This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, frave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, "What's next Dad?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Faith and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us - an unblievable inheritance." Romans 8:15-18
Or how about this one... "Seize Life! Eat bread with gusto. Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh Yes... God takes pleasure in your pleasure. Dress festinely every morning. Don't skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love, each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one." Ecclesiastes 9:7-9
So please... can we lighten up in the midst of our ongoing transformation and taste our coffee - drink our wine - see our sunrise - laugh - sing - give thanks. We may not be able to do any of it tomorrow! This, I hope, will become our testimony of hope in a hopeless world.