Another week has passed and not much has changed. I’m still enjoying school-classes, lab, clinicals- I am still enjoying the warmth and smallness of St. George life, and I am still feeling pretty isolated and alone. I have gone back up north to see family the past couple weekends so that my three days off are more bearable.
Yet even though I’m less than a month in, Father continues to teach me so much. My daily prayer is that he would transform me, humble me, and renew my mind; and I can truly say he is answering that prayer in his perfect way. Throughout my adult life, I have continually been searching for where I’ll be happy, what job will be satisfying, what community will facilitate relationship-building. In my head, I knew that only God will fully satisfy, but in my heart and therefore in my actions, I didn’t really believe and I kept on investing myself in this endless search that has only left me frustrated and well, unhappy and alone. So Father has kindly spoken to me this week, “In my presence is fullness of joy.” This is a beautiful promise, but so backwards to what the world wants us to think. My joy is not in my circumstances. My joy is not in my relationships. My joy is not found in me doing anything. It is found in simply standing in his presence and soaking up his abounding glory, love, and grace.
But so I wouldn’t become stagnant or self-focused, our wise Father also gave me this passage, “Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Life isn’t about me. My life isn’t even about finding joy. It’s about God, what he is doing in this world, and what will bring him glory and joy. There is a lot of things in life that I avoid just because it would mean more work for me or would make me even just slightly uncomfortable. But is that really so important? No! Deny all that. Take up that cross. Do whatever it takes, walk through whatever open doors God provides to show off his glory to the nations and draw people back into his presence. It just makes sense now. I’ve tried it the other way and I can attest, it won’t bring happiness! Yet praise be to God, this isn’t condemning us to a life of misery. He cares so much for us that our joy brings him joy! He wants to see us overflowing with joy and has made a way for us in Christ to access him and the only true joy available! By denying myself and my own whims and pleasures, I am actually accepting God’s gift of eternal joy through which I can live the happiest life ever!
Of course, this is huge. It’s not like I’ve got it all figured out now. I’m prone to forget and bound to fall back into my old ways. But by God’s grace and through his Spirit who reminds us of all that he taught us, I will believe in my heart and try to live out in my actions: in his presence is fullness of joy.