My entire Saturday was saturated with a painful joy. I’m resigned to calling my emotion painful joy because, as much as I’ve reached and grabbed at the English language, I can’t find anything better. I guess it has a lot to do with processing a very emotional week of mission, but I think it’s also this new life philosophy I’m trying out.
I’m really attempting to put everything in my life in the “a la orden” perspective. And, as I do so, I’m noticing the painful joy pressing in on my heart more than I can express. As I share stories with people and listen to memories from students on the mission trip, I am overwhelmed. It’s like standing under Niagara Falls and trying to be thankful for every drop of water cascading from such a great height. It’s TOO MUCH to take in. I was trying to build up monuments (like the Israelites) with words so we can look back and see the Lord’s blessing, but I felt almost frantic to find enough stones and build fast enough.
Have you ever sat with someone who is sharing his/her heart and not known how to express the love blooming like springtime in your soul? I sit there and wish there was a way to dance, sing, laugh, and hug with the colorful power of a hundred springtimes. If I sound crazy, I am doing well with this explanation because it doesn’t make any sense to me either.
The more I make my gifts “available” to the Lord, the more I feel completely blown away by His brilliant use of them. I really consider any gift or ability I have not at all my own, but the Lord’s, so it shouldn’t surprise me that He knows best how to use these gifts for His glory. But, I think the surprise is wrapped up somehow in my joy as well. The mystery of seeing the Gospel alive and working in front of my eyes to transform people I love is marvelous.
THIS is what it means to taste and see that the Lord is good!
Where is the pain? you might ask. Well, yesterday my soul hurt. It ached like the worst charlie horse, but there was no massaging it away. This pain was in every way attached to my joy and I’m still figuring out why.
taste and see
I think (maybe) the more we taste and see that the Lord is good, we might also start to understand the limits of that taste. Let me try to explain. While we are still living on this earth in the “already, not yet” of Kingdom Come, we are limited to merely taste and see the Lord is good. To be honest, I think “taste” is all we can handle, but that reveals one very important, painful truth: this broken world can’t handle the whole feast. We are not yet in eternity where our days will be filled with the FULLNESS of the Lord’s goodness, not just a taste. When we taste something, if it’s a good something, we generally want more.
This could not be more true of the Lord. When we are overwhelmed with delight in His presence, we want more of Him… even ache for more of Him. Within this deep desire there is a struggle for the “eternity set in our hearts” where this ache will be relieved.
subject and mode
The subject of my true delight is the Lord always, but the mode seems to be this “a la orden” (make every gift and talent available through service). And, in serving, the pain comes with the joy as well. With every child comforted or hungry man fed, millions more wait. There is pain (possibly the “groaning in expectation” in Romans?) in serving others in this world when the need is so great. So, at the same time I am experiencing the joy of obedience and following God’s heart, I am experiencing pain through the realization that others may not feel the same joy.
I love these students. It almost scares me how much I love them. To see them ENJOYING the presence of the Lord has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me in my time here. Because I’ve been so blessed to see God work in them, I realize that my part in their journey may soon end. It is, of course, the LORD who is moving and working and drawing them near the Throne of Grace. And I am realizing it is one of the biggest steps of faith to believe God will take care of them whether or not I am by their side. I am having to let go of the reasons my love for them encourages me … and hold on to the reasons my love for God will help me love them in the best way that encourages them.
So, there’s some Sunday reflection for you. I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Sabbath day!