Lately, I've been struggling with finding enjoyment in my relationship with God. I honestly have not been able to experience the enjoyment in my prayer life and daily fellowship with God as I once had. I'm not really sure why (though I have a few clues), but I have been content to endure through this valley until my Savior will refresh me in His perfect time.
Well, I realized as I was listening to the message at church last Sunday that this is a preposterous way of handling the situation. I don't remember what exactly the Lord used to bring this to my attention, but an illustration I heard when listening to Desiring God shined a whole new light on the situation. The illustration basically says that a man's wife would not be honored by her husband bringing her a dozen long-stemmed roses if, when she expressed her gratitude, her husband says, "Don't mention it; it's my duty." This illustration, I'm ashamed to say, sums up my recent relationship with the God Who plucked me out of my sinfully destructive lifestyle and placed me into His heavenly family. He has saved me from eternal torment and given me not only eternal life, but He has given me abundant life on this earth; and I should be fighting to experience that joyfully abundant life. Me not doing this is nothing less than sin.
Lately, though, I have been reading and listening to some more devotional material such as Desiring God, Pursuit of God and Augustine's Confessions; and God has been pleased to reveal Himself in a deeper way to me through the insights of these much appreciated saints. I have been encouraged to not seek to enjoy God by saying, "Boy, these sure are great gifts that God has given," but rather by saying, "God is my most valued treasure, and I have nothing that I desire but You, oh Lord!" These, by far, are what I most need to recognize and to strive after.
The only problem I've had with these encouragements has been the fact that I have nothing tangible to focus my attention on because God is Spirit. How do you focus you praise and adoration on an abstract being? Many people that have gone before me have made this same error; and this, of course, is a sure way to lead to idolatrous worship. Though, by God's grace, I've been enabled to grasp one aspect of this beholding of and worshiping of God for Him rather than His gifts…
Lately, I have been pondering certain things about the nature of God and how Christ upholds the universe. In Colossians 1:17 Paul informs us that all things are held together in Christ. How does this work? Does Jesus consciously direct each and every blood vessel and muscle fiber in my body, or has He simply determined the laws by which those things operate, set them in motion and then hold those laws within a certain parameter? Adding to my curiosity is Ephesians 1:11 which says that God "works ALL things according to the counsel of his will." Really? All things? For some, this topic might not hold any appeal; for me, though, the topic has consumed much of my thinking lately.
But the real significance of this train of thought is the fact that as I was pondering this the other day, I began to wonder what it will be like when I sit in the presence of God Himself. Will He reveal these things to me? I'm sure that He will reveal more than what I now know. I can picture myself sitting, listening as Jesus explains the complexities of all of history. Why did he allow those gruesome acts to take place? After all, God not only knows what has happened in history, but He knows why it happened. He determined that it would happen. And I will one day sit in His presence. The mere fact that He may enlighten my understanding of the past is not good enough, though. The mere fact that I will be in His presence is the thing that brings me joy. I will one day be in the presence of God, and anything I can imagine that experience to be will not do it justice.
Actually, I am in God's presence now. He Who is everywhere and nowhere at once. He is right here with me now. He sees all that I do. He causes my heart to groan after Him. I love Him for all these things. I pray that I will realize these things more frequently and that I will be aware of anything that will take this awareness and joy away before I allow myself to plunge into unnecessary misery again.