Praise you, Lord, that with you every day is a sunny one, for your light of love and life shines continually on us, giving us encouragement, perspective, purpose, power and joy: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you,” said Jesus, and then “These thing I have spoken to you that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full” (John 15:9,11).
There is a condition to receiving this joy: trust. As it says in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that your lives may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Trusting God involves submitting to Him, to His description of reality, to His Word, to His leadership, to His purpose and meaning.
We can’t walk in the light while keeping our eyes closed, living in the tiny world in our head. We have to open our eyes wide to the wonderful, awesome, expansive and beautiful reality of God’s Kingdom. Here we own nothing, but are given everything we need. We are called to hold all with an open hand, telling our gracious and kind, good and wise Heavenly Father, “Take what you want, leave what you want, give what you want. I trust you to do what is best.”
Holding all with an open hand is, on one side, scary at first, because there are plenty of things we don’t want to give up (health, relationships, income, security, savings, etc.). But as we come to know more and more of God’s beautiful and wise character, our fear lessens (perfect love casts out fear), and is replaced by a sense of security (safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of Jesus), and a sense of adventure (every day is a battle with spiritual enemies who use people against us; but as we keep on the armor and fight the right enemies, there is a continual string of victories). We begin to understand what it means to be more than conquerors in the midst of challenges (Romans 8:37).
As we develop a greater dependence on our Shepherd Jesus, there comes a healthy emotional independence from those around us. Their ups and downs, cutting comments and negative attitudes don’t affect us as much, for we are finding our rest in God alone (Ps. 62:1) and we live in the truth that God is “our rock, our fortress and our deliverer” (Ps. 18:2). We cease to live for the approval of those around us, because we have the approval of the only One who counts.
Living this way entails a fundamental change, a worldview shift from our natural thinking to God’s thinking. We no longer live in a world where most things around us are out of control (certainly out of our control), but in a world where all is in God’s control, where whatever comes to us comes with His wise permission, for His expansive purpose, in His great love for us.
What a difference it makes to live in this new Kingdom where we have multiple opportunities daily to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, sacrificing our perspective for His, rising above the natural to live in the supernatural, the eternal.
What a God we have, what a life He gives us, what a future He’s prepared. To live in the wonder of getting the opposite of what we deserve, to revel in His unconditional love, to bask in His unending goodness (instead of thinking all the natural negative thoughts the devil throws at us), this is part of the joy He desires for us. Why not embrace it?