If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve discovered that I desperately want to delight in God more than I delight in the things I’m passionate about.
and I’ve come face to ugly face with the fact that I don’t.
Some of my Christian friends are very uncomfortable with this admission.
Some get exactly what I’m talking about and are on the same path.
Some have been there. I’m learning from and am encouraged by their journey.
Some have no interest and are waiting for me to just chill out and forget about all this.
Some think they know exactly what I’m talking about, but in reality, they think I’m talking about obedience and blessings.
I’ll try to clarify.
I’m not talking about obedience and blessings. or personal satisfaction. or security. or peace. This is not about serving God, helping others and living a “good Christian life.”
I’m talking about DELIGHT. JOY. A passionate desire for God. Because He’s GOD.
I don’t define “finding delight in God’s gifts” as the satisfaction that comes from living a good, moral Christian life that provides me with a sense of accomplishment and a good night’s sleep at the end of the day.
I haven’t found that consistent prayer and Bible reading automatically result in intimacy with God. I’ve experienced spiritual dryness smack in the middle of some of the most prayerful seasons of my life. I’ve had to pray my way out of a pit before. It’s dark. It’s painful. It’s slow. and I hated it. but it was good.
I don’t hold to the belief that if I’m obedient, God will bless me. I know there ain’t no tit for tat when it comes to obedience and blessing. Checking off a Christian to-do list won’t earn me protection from trials. I have absolutely NO deluded sense that “if” I’m obedient, “then” God will reward me in this life.
I’ve read the book of Job.
I haven’t found that intimacy with Christ means I delight in Him because of WHO HE IS. I am more intimate with God than with any human. He knows what I look like naked. and I don’t mean nekkid. I mean He KNOWS me. I tell Him everything. EVERYthing. Even the stuff I don’t want to tell Him about myself because I don’t want to hear it. or face it. I thank Him. often. For SO. MUCH. I confess to Him. often. For SO. MUCH. I plead with Him. often. For SO. MUCH.
In 2007, 27 years after I became a Christian, I entered into an intimate relationship with God that has changed my life. But I want to be closer. So I asked Him to show me what separates me from Him. (Be careful what you pray for.) He’s been showing me for over a year and I’ve been arguing with Him.
I’ve decided to stop doing the activities that I’ve come to depend on to fill me with delight and desire for God.
That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped living a good, moral Christian life. Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading my Bible, or praying or seeking God’s will or striving to be obedient to God. Although the praying, seeking God’s will and striving to be obedient look very, Very, VERY different than they did a few months ago, I’m NOT going to stop doing any of those things.
I need to let go of the things I’m passionate about. They are crutches that I’ve come to depend on to lead me to delight in the Lord. I need to lean on HIM. I need to find a way to experience delight and joy in HIM ALONE. Even in the absence of those things.
I experience true joy and I delight in the essence of WHO God IS when I lead worship. Leading worship is not something I do as service. I am PASSIONATE about it. It fuels me. I’m up at 5:45am on Sunday morning so I have time to pray before I have to be at rehearsal at 8:15am. During most praise sets, I find a connection with the Holy Spirit that makes me forget myself. It’s my mountaintop. every. week. I don’t do it out of obedience. I do it because when I do it, I find joy and delight in WHO GOD IS.
And I’ve come to realize I depend on it too much. I don’t know how to find that same joy and delight in God without it. I’ve realized that I find joy in the artist through the joy I find in the art. And that’s no longer enough for me. I want more. I need to figure out how to be fully satisfied in God even if I never get to lead worship again.
When I’ve discovered how to do that, will He let me lead worship again? Don’t know yet. Maybe not. and I need to be okay with that or this entire search is a lie.
I find joy and delight in WHO GOD IS when sharing my faith through writing and speaking. I’m passionate about both. Ideas wake me up in the middle of the night and demand to be written down. I start writing and realize I haven’t eaten all day. I start speaking and realize I’m supposed to be wrapping up. 10 minutes ago. I need to learn how to find joy and delight in HIM, not just through speaking and writing about Him.
When I’ve discovered how to do that, will He give me something to say and write about again? Don’t know yet. Maybe not. and I need to be okay with that or this search is a lie.
A friend hit it head on in a blog comment a few days ago:
“If desire implies that you are not content without it, I would think it sinful.”
I am not content with the thought of not writing a book.
I am not content with the thought of not being a Christian speaker or teacher.
I am not content with the thought of never leading worship again.
and there it is.
I need – desperately need – to be content without these things. I need to desire GOD and find joy in Him directly, not through the joy and delight I experience when I write about him, speak about Him or sing to Him. I prayed for Him to show me what separated me from Him and He has.
I need to be fully satisfied in Him because of WHO HE IS.
[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”]