You know those picture captions that read, "ASFDKDHFHASDIFSDFHBVIRTYSNCSFNEIRUGH...." or something like that? Very few things in this world make me feel that way: 1) food - I don't know what kind specifically, but I know that I'll marry the man who can consistently put that food on the table and 2) God. The second one is by far the most important, so clearly there is no specific order to that short list.
Anyway, "ASFDKDHFHASDIFSDFHBVIRTYSNCSFNEIRUGH...." is the only word (or is it words?) I've been able to conjure up this week. All of my life's favorite distractions and their mothers and grandmothers have been doing their annoying job for the past week or two - I haven't been wholly, genuinely focused on the Lord and I credit that to school, homework, work, and finding pleasure, security, confidence, etc. in my circumstances and blessings. While the happiness that blooms from realizing how blessed I am is totally acceptable and worthy of praise, it's not the happiness I should find my peace in.
That happiness comes from someONE, not someTHING(S), and that lesson has been a recurring theme in my walk with God lately.
My bible study leader is a spectacular human and photocopied chapter 5 of Idols of the Heart for us to study this week. As the three of us dove in on Monday morning - listening to the sound of pouring rain, might I add - I felt the Holy Spirit sort through the files in my brain and pull out the least important, most worldly thoughts and distractions so that I could wholly focus on what was in our study for the day. Thank you, Holy Spirit. How'd you know I needed that cleaned out?
Just four short paragraphs in and I was already pulling out my highlighter and basically taking note of everything. The first sentence that really caught my eye read, "They understood that ultimate joy was to be found only in obeying the living God," which was referring to this excerpt from Daniel...
To me, that spoke about unwavering trust in God's plan and whole-hearted joy in the fact that He is, well, He is God.
A paragraph or two later, it brought up David's words, "Because your loving kindness is better than my life, my lips will praise you" (Psalm 63:3). I was taken aback when the book asked me, "Is God's steadfast love and mercy really sweeter to me than life?" Stunned at my inability to immediately, without a doubt confirm that, yes it is sweeter than life, I couldn't do anything else besides just highlight the question.
AAAHHHHHHHHHH come on, Haley. Those were my thoughts, as I recalled my most common reasons for giving thanks: this life, my family, my friends, my community, CRU, my job and internship, and the list goes on, but so many things on that list begin with "my". Why isn't the FIRST thing on that list just God in and of Himself? Not the fact that He sent His son for me, or because He has blessed me with such an abundant surrounding of Christ-followers, but because He loves me and is, well, He is Him. Yes, there is joy in loving family and friends, in the opportunity to work and earn money, and in San Luis Obispo and all of its beauty, but the heartiest, juiciest, most sustainable source of everlasting joy is found in one person and one person only.
And that joy blooms and multiplies and flourishes in fulfilling God's will for our individual lives. A few paragraphs later, I had to pull out my highlighter again as I read and re-read and re-read this excerpt from the book, "Delighting to do God's will means turning from the deception that joy lies outside obedient fellowship with Him. We need to consistently disbelieve the imaginations that appear sweeter than God's lovingkindness."
Yes. Perfect. 10/10, beautifully phrased. But that's like knowing you have fresh, organic broccoli and tomatoes and carrots and brown rice that require just a little bit of cooking, while staring at a batch of double-chocolate chip cookies, or pumpkin pie, or a gigantic, homemade muffin (my ultimate weakness). The former are nutritious and wholesome and full of life and rewarding, while the latter are sugary and delicious and tempting and... temporarily satisfying. T e m p o r a r i l y. S a t i s f y i n g.
This morning, I opened my bible to Psalms 29...
Worship God because He is God, above all. Not because He gave me family and friends and Cal Poly and work and money and food, but whole-heartedly, because HE IS GOD.
And suddenly, loneliness and desire for a boyfriend, worry and the need to schedule the upcoming week, fear and the stress of getting the right classes and graduating on time and finding a job and finding "the one" and building a family and blah blah blah, all of that just dissolves. I feel like I've rooted myself deep in God's soil, and I'll go deeper and deeper so that nothing and no one can pull me out.
And THAT is where joy lies :)