O the deep, deep love

The words and bars and notes and very standard rhythm all drifted bigger into the center until the hymn swam in front of me last Sunday.

And now, mid-week, I’m remembering the blurry words all over again. I read this devotional from John Piper, “When Will I Be Satisfied?” because it was one of many emails waiting when I got back from vacation. I finally got around to it today and I think it goes deeper into the question I posed Monday night about bliss. It’s all tangled together, actually – the joy and the work and the sweat and the bliss. Vacations give time and space for these kinds of questions, I guess.

Piper reflects on John 17:26, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” in these powerful statements:

If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth. He will never become boring or disappointing or frustrating. No greater treasure can be conceived than the Son of God.

Did you follow that? If God’s pleasure (Jesus) becomes our pleasure, then our pleasure can NEVER BE EXHAUSTED.

Joy doesn’t end (vacation or otherwise) because Jesus doesn’t end. Isn’t that magnificent? You will never want more joy than is available, because the pleasure you find in Jesus is inexhaustible.

The joy is INSIDE Jesus and He is INSIDE us.

This is the greater depth I needed to plumb! When I came up and got un-swallowed from vacation bliss, I was revived to work with redeemed blood coursing through my veins. But that didn’t necessarily solve the joy question. Was my bliss sequestered in vacation – is it only there that joy can live?

Praise God the answer is “No!” He is not only my redemption, but my joy. The kind of joy that makes me dance on the beach and makes me dance in my car and makes me dance with my co-workers and makes me dance with the children on my caseload. THIS is the joy of salvation that David wanted to be restored to him – the joy that makes us dance through the work and sweat and troublesome weekdays.

The love of Christ is that deep.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

fighting fear with freedom when seeking pleasure

You only live once.

Better hurry, then. Better take all the pleasure in with big gulps and big gasps until you’re stuffed with it because soon you might be dead. Better see everything and do everything and say everything and be everything because there will be a moment when it is all over. Life, I mean.

If I can wade through the hedonism of this cultural phenomenon (YOLO), what really remains is fear. That simple monster scares us into believing this is all there is – that “wasting this life” means missing out on late nights and roller coasters and fishing trips. Fear is that big, ugly giant in our closets and under our beds who reminds us we are mortal and convinces us pleasure is mortal, too. Fear.

It looks like freedom, to hurry and hustle and chase pleasures. But even the best of pleasures, the seemingly good and unselfish ones (like conversations with your son or marrying your best friend or traveling to every wonder of the world) are never meant to be sought in fear. We were never meant to chase pleasures as the unknown date of our mortality inches closer – to think we would lie more pleasantly in our graves knowing that we enjoyed bar scenes on all seven continents.

We were not made to seek pleasure out of fear. We were made to seek pleasure out of freedom.

Pleasure is not bad. If that were so, God would never be pleased. But He is pleased. He delights daily in His creation and He has made us in His image to delight and enjoy pleasures as well. Every day, more pleasures.

Isn’t that splendid? We are made with pleasure-seeking in our veins! But God does not seek pleasure out of fear. He does not hurry and hustle to store up treasures… it sounds silly to even suggest it. Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). He is not constrained by a timeline – by a mortal death that inches closer every time the sun rises in the east.

When we are united with Christ, mortal life is no longer the timeline for our pleasures. We need not fear the minutes that have already passed this morning and how we haven’t seized the YOLO anthem in every breath.

The Christian’s pleasure-seeking is rooted in the security of eternity.

When we are secure about eternity, seeking pleasure looks different. It looks like joining in God’s pleasure, pursuing holiness, and enjoying every good thing without fear. Instead of chasing and grasping and gulping in pleasures, we join God as He delights in the beauty of creation.

As we delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), we are conformed to be pleased by what pleases Him. My pastor used to say that God changes our “wanter” – our desire is no longer to chase fulfillment and worth in pleasure, but to seek fulfillment and worth in God. Our delight is in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1) and on this law we meditate day and night. The source of our delight is an otherworldly and eternal spring, welling up to give profound pleasure.

In Christ we live twice, and one of those times is forever. It takes the pressure off pleasure-seeking in this life because we have the assurance of eternity (and pleasures forevermore).

And this is freedom.