Joy in God. It's commanded. (Psalm 37:4) (Philippians 4:4) It's promised. (Job 22:26) And it's given freely in God's good timing. However, recently, I have found myself lacking that joy. For several months, I had experienced a rich season of faith. I truly delighted in the Lord and felt very close to Him. It became easier and easier to talk to Him...and listen. I really felt like I was in love with God. But during winter break, I failed to talk to Him daily and read His Word. I found little interest in our relationship. When I tried to return to my daily devotional routine, I found it extremely difficult to express my thoughts or even find the determination to open the Bible for a word of encouragement. I have not made it out of this spiritual rut yet. It is very discouraging. Once I had a taste of that great Joy, I became hungrier for it. Now I feel that it is almost missing altogether. But God is slowly bringing me back to Him.
I just started reading John Piper's When I don't Desire God. At first, it was just as frustrating as everything else I've tried. For some reason, I just could not understand the concepts. You see, Piper talks about how we must fight for joy in God...but at the same time, we must allow God to do the work in us. This just did not make sense to me. I feel that fighting is something violent or harsh. How could I balance that with letting God do his part? I was so discouraged that I almost put down the book. Then, one day, God began moving as He always does. While my mom and brother were doing a devotional together, I overheard my mom saying that you should always pray before you delve into the Word. Hm...I had not been doing that. The next morning during my Bible study, I prayed before opening my book- Lord, open my eyes to see what You would have me see in this book. Help me to understand clearly what I need to understand. Speak to me through this book. God had a little somethin' to say to me:
We are like farmers. They plow the flied and plant the seed and cut away weeds and scare away crows, but they do not make the crop grow. God does. He sends rain and sunshine and brings to maturity the hidden life of the seed. We have our part. But it is not coercive or controlling. And there will be times when the crops fail. Even then God has his ways of feeding the farmer and bringing him through a lean season.
Oh my! This makes perfect sense to me. We must do our part and invest ourselves in our relationships with Him. But He is the one who will finally bring us the joy. If we do not read our Bibles, pray, go to church and really dig deep, true joy in God is not going to happen. But if it is not His will for us to have that joy quite yet, it's not going to happen yet either. God has everything perfectly laid out. We just have to do our parts while we wait for Him.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!