the foxes in the vineyard

This Monday morning is a fox in the vineyard.

Things “begin” on Monday morning – the week, the work, the schedule – but we all know nothing ended on Friday. We just pushed pause so we could smile and forget for two days. At least that seems to be what everyone hopes our weekly system is set up to do: work for five days, forget about work for two days, and then start work again.

I have never had a job where that cycle is successful. Because working with people means working inside relationships and I would do very poor work if I severed relationships on a weekly basis.

So, this morning I woke out of a dream thinking about the court hearing at 8 am and about the meetings in the afternoon because they had been on my mind all weekend. These aren’t appointments, they are people and that feels heavy.

The antidote for anxiety is not reason, though many well-meaning people have lectured me on boundaries and work/life balance.

The antidote for anxiety is the promises of God. It is a medicine that doesn’t take away the illness, but overcomes it. The promises of God are trustworthy and they follow us. I cannot go to a place where God’s promises cannot reach. He is here, inside this Monday and He knows about the foxes. He knows about all the evil plans to steal my joy.

He knows about my anxiety and He knows His promises can overcome it. He is good to me. In His sovereign will, He is good and can only be good to me.

Today is about believing God is good when the foxes are in the vineyard.

This song by Audrey Assad sings the overflow of goodness and it will be my reminder all day long.

I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise
and I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
and the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

because You are good to me, good to me

I lift my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night–raise my head up and hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
and the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

because You are good to me, good to me
Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
all my lifeI will trust in Your promise
© 2013 Audrey Assad Inc (BMI)

delight; pleasure, enjoyment, rapture

delight

When did we let someone run away with this weighty word and drown it in hedonism?
When did we start using it to describe cupcakes and shallow conversations and crude innuendos?

It’s a bit of a fight today, so I’ve got delight on my brain… swimming around there and trying to evade my desperate fingers. I believe, I believe, I believe. Help my unbelief, Lord – that delight is impossible and evasive and illusive and less than rapturous.

I’m stealing it back and believing it means pleasure and enjoyment and rapture. My soul is waking up to pleasure and enjoyment and rapture in the moments where it feels illusive because I am believing delight is more than what we’ve made it. 

I believe God wrote the definition of delight. And He wants it to define my life.

Referencing 2 Corinthians 4:6 in “Future Grace,” John Piper says that, “saving faith in the promises of God must include spiritual delight in the God of the promises. … Delight in the glory of God is not the whole of what faith is. But I think that without it, faith is dead.” And later he explains,

“It is not merely the security of the promises that frees us from motives to sin; but also the sweetness of the beauty of God in the promises. It is the spiritual nature of the things promised. When we apprehend the spiritual beauty or sweetness of what is promised, and delight in it, not only are we freed from the insecurity of greed and fear that motivate so much sin, but we are also shaped in our values by what we cherish in the promise (see 1 John 3:3). If we cherish the beauty of Christ in the gospel, we will cherish behavior – even painful sacrificial behavior – that reflects that beauty.” (p. 203)

But, who is John Piper? Does Scripture really say we should be delighting in the spiritual beauty of what is promised and the One who promises?

Christians often (maybe too quickly) grasp promises and make them ‘givens’ – the kind of phrases you run to when you’re worried the IRS will knock on your door or when you’re afraid of getting fired. “But, God is good and He promises to be good to me!” we might say to ourselves.

Though it is true that God is good, Piper helps us understand how delighting in His promises is different than assuming the benefit of His promises. Our delighting in His promises is freedom – moment by moment – from believing the lies that threaten to entangle us in this world. This delighting in the promises is never an end, but a great catalyst as we delight in the beauty of the One who promises.

Delight pours out delight and the well is infinitely deep!

I’m testing the depths today, but I have not yet found the floor. For every desperate moment I reach deeper, and there I find a delight that frees me from worry and fear. It’s not just my job that needs this deep well of delight – it’s my thoughts, my free time, my Tuesday nights, my phone calls, my lunch hours, my relationships, my family – it’s everything that needs redeemed.

If Christ is my greatest treasure, then everything (ev-er-y-thing) else is a secondary variable. No matter how convinced I am that my day could be ruined with one email, phone call, encounter, fight, bill – there is one most important trump card called Christ. If I dive in to delight in His promises, reveling in the security and weight of them, I will stay swimming in the delight of God’s beauty, that He would promise anything at all.

Are you overwhelmed yet?

Steal the word delight back today
and let LOVE fly like cRaZy

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11 ESV)

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4 ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always,
and again I say rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4)

Also, see this helpful devotional that sparked my thoughts from David Matthis over at Desiring God, “He Wants You Happy.”

peace is found in believing

“The key that unlocks the treasure chest of God’s peace is faith in the promises of God. So Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). And when we do trust the promises of God and have joy and peace and love, then God is glorified.”
– from Day 7 in Good News of Great Joy, Advent Devotional.

Some days it feels like I need the treasure of God’s peace more than I need anything else. In those days, I turn life upside down in search of it.

But my feelings betray me because every day I need this treasure. And every day I either find God’s peace or settle for something else. Usually, when I don’t feel like I need the treasure of God’s peace I have settled for something far less valuable and my very settling will send me on a desperate search for the real thing as soon as the counterfeit runs out.

I love this reflection about peace – that peace is faith in the promises of God.

Both joy and peace come in believing – in the process of trusting we unlock the treasure of peace. An easier treasure map you could not find: trust in the promises of the One who made you, called you, loves you, and sanctifies you. Trust in the One who has no beginning and no end.

This is the map to the treasure of God’s peace: trust.

That’s it.

Thankfully, there’s no math. It’s not trust + effort or trust + deeds that we need to get to peace. But it’s also not an equation one can finish and present to God in exchange for peace.

I am a notorious short-lived truster: I trust for a moment and then fall out of believing moments after. But this in believing that Paul talks about in Romans 15 – this in believing is beautiful because our active trusting (in the present tense) means the peace is hidden there in the activity.

God has infinite joy and peace waiting to be discovered by those who trust Him for who He is from this moment to the next… and then for the moments after that.

Some days it feels like I need the treasure of God’s peace more than I need anything else. On those other days my feelings forget to make me feel what my soul always searches.

Every day I need God’s peace and every day it is found in believing.
He finds me as I am believing and gives me peace.

And in the giving of peace, He is glorified as the only One in whom we can believe for this peace – the only One whose promises are worth trusting.

[deep breath]

let LOVE fly like cRaZy