“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” –1 Corinthians 10:12
This passage has held a place in my heart for many years now, but it is one of those things that sometimes I take for granted. I’ve spent time memorizing this and reminding myself that God promises freedom and strength under temptation and that I am not a slave to my desires, but I am in fact able to resist. As a young man, it was a poignant reminder and even a mantra for the possibility of living a moral life outside of my rebellious desires and tendencies.
I think it is also a passage about humility. I at least appreciate the apostle’s warning, as too many times I’ve had my teeth kicked in by temptation when I least expected it and particularly when I was finally feeling good about my growth and personal development. The other major thing I’ve felt and particularly lately is that often I find myself slightly inflated in how my life is going. Things are pretty good right now. I am having success in my job and school is going well and married life is AWESOME, but I’m finding that often as I sit and begin to think through how good things are going and start feeling good about myself a sudden revelation comes out of nowhere and yanks the rug out from under me. Just as I think things are perfect, I see just how not they are. This hasn’t let me to “fall” per se, but it’s definitely shaken me on the pedestal that I’ve set up. Strike that, I fall off that pedestal often enough. And it’s frustrating to have my perception be so off, but each time I am glad for the truth. I’d much rather have a more accurate picture of what is happening in my life and what God is doing and even of the people I relate to than a strong sense of self-confidence and be self-deluded too.
But it still hurts. So I’m trying to keep an eye out and not build things up in my mind.
I started working this out and wanted to write an article about joy, so I’m gonna surprise you and chunk that in too.
I think joy is something that surprises us (i.e. Surprised by Joy, by C.S. Lewis). Joy is those little moments that come in and overwhelm us with an emotion we can only describe as joy because of it’s completeness and the echoes of something beyond our human experience.
I was reflecting on what brings me joy recently and a couple things struck me. I wasn’t aloud to say my wife or kids (which I don’t have) so that focused my thoughts in and the first thing that struck me was an experience about a week ago. My boss, our student ministries pastor, was hosting the Sunday morning service and gave a message for the children during the service and began it by calling all the kids up to sit with him on the steps to the stage. I watched as his two little girls ran up and sat down on either side of him leaning their little heads against his side. Lots of other kids ran up too, but just seeing those two little children recline their heads on their daddy as the service started made my heart sing. That simple moment came out of nowhere and I almost wept with joy right there. I’m not the most emotional person, it usually takes a lot to make me cry and I started thinking about what that moment meant to elicit
Joy overtook me because I saw a small slice of the way reality should be there. Two little children who love their daddy completely and trust him implicitly. They weren’t concerned about propriety or about what people would think they just wanted to be with their daddy. In that simple moment, I saw heaven. What more joy and delight can come in a worship service than that?! In the simplicity of a child’s love, there was what it means to love God.
It’s these simple moments where the clouds part and we see life as it should really be that joy unfolds. It’s like heaven shining into the world today and I think this is what it means to experience the Kingdom as Christ described it. So I’m keeping my eyes open to see those little glimmers those portions of the eternal that pop up and surprise us and bring a joy that is clean and clear and wonderful.