I did a bit of reading in Romans today. I usually feel more than a little intimidated when I read Paul’s soaring epistles. His letters read like he lived his life continuously trembling with excitement over what God is doing in the earth. Meanwhile, I am usually underwhelmed. That is, God’s promises hit me in a surreal way, or on worse days, as preposterous.
Surrounded by the ugliness in the world that so easily shouts down the good that is going on behind the scenes, it’s sometimes a stretch just to get a glimpse of God’s love, let alone exult in “these great and precious promises” (2 Peter) that give His children all of heaven and earth on a platter.
A pastor I know, Ron Wenning, once said that Christians should go around with silly grins on their faces. If they’re not, he said, it’s an indication of unbelief. I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply that the Christian with strong faith floats through life in a state of euphoria. But joy is something we can have much of the time. Joy, as opposed to happiness, is not a reaction to circumstances but a resolute reflection on the overarching provision of God in the face of often adverse conditions.
I’ve been in something of a funk recently. My inward cravings have been enormous, particularly since lately my work schedule has me doing little more than working and sleeping with a bit of time for errands, etc. (not exactly a buffet for the soul), and I’ve been irrationally trying to find satisfaction in carnal things: food, sleep, flirting with the wrong sorts of girls at work, taking in questionable movies, music, etc. But the more time passes in my life, the emptier these things seem to me, the more futile the idea of trying to make a banquet out of a junk-food diet. I’m like the cow in the Far Side cartoon who, while grazing with his friends, all of a sudden stops and declares, “Hey, this is just grass. We’re eating grass!”
As unpleasant as this process is, I’m grateful for my God-given awareness. I’ve finally reached the point where I know too much to keep playing in the dirt. It can’t even hold my attention anymore. And when I do become momentarily entranced, here comes the Lord, knocking down my sand castles with waves of fresh, clean water. Such monumental patience our Lord has.