Monday, June 15, 2015

Turning the Difficulties of Life Into Joys

WHY follow Jesus? Eternal life, if we believe in heaven. But there’s a reason that makes more sense than even that. Jesus is passage to the only true overcoming life.
Here is how it goes:
The follower of Jesus is a disciple. A disciple follows their teacher. Jesus is a good teacher. He is a tremendous exemplar of the faith, wisdom, leadership and maturity he is instilling in his disciples by the Holy Spirit.
Now… here is the crux:
The disciple has no difficulty with life. The difficulties of life are assumed. They become their opportunities to redeem joy as they overcome them.
The irony is a disciple, being on their way to this destination of maturity, happens often to lament and get stuck in their difficulties. But God is patient. He knows the disciple will repent soon.
He knows they must repent to experience joy.
Repentance is the quickening of joy. Turn and obey God and joy rushes in like a hungry teenager to consume a banquet.
But repentance, though it is a quickening, is not always quick. Sometimes it takes months; sometimes years.
The key to missing the abundant life is the absence of joy. That should remain our golden clue. Where there is an absence of joy, we cannot simply choose for joy; we must, instead, choose for Jesus.
To choose for Jesus is to choose to follow Jesus, again, for we have left the trail.
Jesus beckons us back — “come, follow me” — and so we do. We realise, with no shame or guilt, that we had left the path of discipleship; that our difficulties weighed us down with an onerous temerity.
So we decide, again, to follow Jesus.
At once we are impelled out of our disobedience (the shrinking of faith) to create expectations of life. We drop our expectations. That’s the first thing we do. How can we have expectations when we have a Lord who is setting the agenda?
Expectations are not only disobedience, and away from the will of God, but they are also a sure-fire way of arriving in the land of disappointment.
Having dropped our expectations — having dethroned ourselves — we then put Jesus back on the throne of our hearts. From there he may reign.
From there we can realise that Jesus superintends our lives and he makes it possible for us to simply look to him. All because we have dropped our expectations, and we have opened our perspective in order that it could reach the heights of his perspective for our lives.
God knows we need to repent in order to experience joy. Joy comes close when we follow God. But to insist on joy and our own way is to make joy vanish.
Only through Jesus is there joy in our difficulties, because we have agreed to drop our expectations.
When we don’t expect the world out of life, life gives us a world we never expected. It’s a life free from the anxious burden of our difficulties; a life that accepts the difficulties exist as an invitation to overcome them.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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