The root of things stirring in my heart is this question: Is following Jesus worth it? In response to that question, everything within me screams yes. But I also feel the pain that my heart has developed a love for the world, a love that must die. The cares of the world have crept into my heart, and they will kill me if I do not kill them. There is a clear distinction between taking on the cares of the world, and caring for the world. The more I care for the things that the world cares for, the more unable I am to care for the people that live in this world. The cares of the world have always existed and are prominent in my culture; money, intoxication, and sex outside the bounds of a covenant relationship. I can’t be a firefighter that plays in the fire. Ya feel? Consequently, the momentary pleasures have snuffed out some of my deepest joy. I have been deeply grieved.
There are numerous causalities:
I have not faithfully gone to the source of life to experience the constant filling of joy that is available to me. My time in the word has been scarce. As I plunge back in, fresh springs of life fill me. When we accept the word of God in our hearts, we accept God into our hearts. The gateway for Jesus coming in and making room is the practice of filling our hearts with His word.
Because I have possessed a heart depleted of His word, my giving efforts have been fruitless and exhausting.
I have also tried to keep the appearance that I have it all together. I’m sure that the people who know me, know that I have never had it all together.
I reflect. Because through this time, I have known His nearness. Though grieved, Holy Spirit has not left me. Though I have denied Jesus so many times in my heart, I have also experienced His invitation to restoration; “Peter, do you love me?”
The Nature of Grace
I have learned so much about the nature of grace in the past two months. As I reflect, I see a Pharisee in me – one blind to my own sin that likes to tell God what to do, while demanding religion from others. I also see a helpless beggar – empty handed, unable to provide for myself what I most need.
Overwhelmingly, it has been revealed to me that I bring nothing to the table when it comes to my salvation. I am completely dependent and utterly desperate for God to move towards me, to show me grace, and to change me. Of my own strength, of my own nature – I DO NOT MOVE TOWARDS GOD. There is no natural holiness in me. In fact, I definitively run the other direction – away from Him. But He runs after me. He is relentless. He pursues.
I have a deep thirst. A thirst for purpose. A thirst for belonging. A thirst for sustained pleasure. As I try to satisfy those things with my own agenda, I find a distinct lack of fulfillment. I was made for more.
Not only does Jesus pursue the most sinful people; tax collectors, prostitutes, and Peter McCarthy – He also offers to completely satisfy us. He does not just tell us to leave our worldly pleasures, He gives us sustained pleasure in Himself. I could never achieve this on my own. I am a wretch, and the only thing that can save me is amazing grace.
The Valley of Decision
Having received such a gift, I have a decision; will I follow the one that chases after me? Will I lay aside every weight, every temporary pleasure, to pursue the joy set before me? The most drawing, compelling incentive is that Jesus has done that for me. He laid aside glory to alter my story.
By laying aside distractions and trivial affections of the heart, I can receive, lay hold of, and affirm the one who joyously pursues me.
You see, don’t you? I treasure Jesus more deeply because I really have no business even knowing who Jesus is. The results of going my own way are deadly and bitter. I really cannot find solid ground without a rescuer bringing me there. I feel the weight of my hopelessness. I feel the weight of my guilt. I feel the weight of my sadness. But I also so deeply see and treasure the gift of Jesus who is my hope. He took my guilt upon Himself and received the consequences that I should be receiving. Knowing His love brings me joy.
There is not a quick fix to walking in our destinies, or pursuing His call on our lives, or accomplishing the vision. But there is an invitation to walk with Him in our brokenness. And as we walk with Him, we will go where we need to go, and we will bear the fruit that he deems good.
A Warning to the Wise
You cannot be a Christian and grow an affection for the comforts of America. If your time and heart are more invested in building an image at work, watching Netflix to get a fix or numb the pain, or perhaps making sure that your kids are better than other kids at soccer, then you will miss growing an affection for the eternal treasure. Perhaps you have been challenged to turn off the tv or deactivate facebook, but never while seeing that Jesus is worth it. Friends, He is worth it. We throw off the things that weigh us down while running the eternal race, because of the joy set before us. We throw off momentary pleasures for the eternal pleasure of knowing Jesus. KNOW that when we spend our time with momentary pleasures, we grow dull to the fact that we are gradually losing sight of the ultimate treasure, Jesus. That is the most dangerous place to be. We won’t see him rescuing us if we are comfortable with joys that last 22 minutes (x) six seasons.
Let’s help each other be people that fight for the clear, raw vision of seeing the One who pursues us, the One who fulfills us, and the One worthy of our pursuit. His name is Jesus.
For the #joysetbeforeme,