Have you ever been let down by a friend? Silly question, I know. Have you ever been disappointed? Another silly question. Of course! It’s life.
But here’s another question, a little harder: H ow often do you count on the things in this life to give you lasting joy? I’m not talking about inherently bad things. I’m talking about the people we love, exciting plans we have for the future, our hobbies, favorite places and foods, aspirations, and dreams. Good stuff!
But how often do we put our hope in them?
Lately, I’ve tried to find security in the good things that are happening in my life. Without realizing it, my heart has drifted from finding joy in God and ended up in a confusing and tense place: counting on my circumstances to fill me. Don’t get me wrong, my circumstances have been joyful! If you’ve talked to me lately, I’ve probably word-vomited about all my plans and exciting things of the future.
But there’s a danger there. In the moments when I delight in my life and circumstances, I feel self-sufficient. I don’t feel my need for Christ in quite the burning, consuming, real way that I should. When I quantify my joy to a list of what’s happening around me, I also feel that I have control. I fall into pride. “Wow, look what I’ve got going on!”
But the truth is that all worldly things will definitely let us down at some point.
We can only find lasting joy in Jesus and what he’s done for us. You may already know this, or the concept may be foreign to you. But either way, no matter where you stand with God, you’ve probably been let down by hopes and joys of this world. Maybe you’re going through it right now.
Maybe you defined yourself with your career, only to find it slip from under your feet. Maybe someone you admired and loved hurt you or let you down. Maybe a hobby you used to be happily consumed by is losing its luster. Maybe the world around you that used to be exciting and vibrant suddenly feels dull and unfulfilling.
No matter how amazing or secure something feels, there is no guarantee that it will remain steady.
The only steady thing I’ve found in this shifting life is God. He loves us so greatly that he sacrificed his own Son’s life to make a way to be with us. This truth will never change. He gave us the Bible so we might know him more. It will never change. His character is faithfulness, love, and strength. He will never change. And he has a future and a plan for us to be with him forever, in a world that will be renewed: without sin, pain, or fear!
How could we not find assurance and joy in this story?!
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.” . . .
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply. . .
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
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 16:2, 4a, 8-11 ESV
“The sorrows of those who run after another god will multiply.” It’s so true! Fullness of joy is found only in God’s presence. I want to make it my goal to delight in the Lord. I want to enjoy him as much as he enjoys us! I want him to be the real object of my joy, rather than anything in this world.
Before I end this post, I need to give a disclaimer. Some people will say that life as a Christian will be all joy and prosperity. That’s simply not true. Circumstances can be just as nasty, ugly, and painful when you know Jesus as they can without him. The difference, though, is that we can find joy in him no matter what is going on. That’s why the joy of the Lord is our strength! It both permeates the worst circumstances and lifts our gaze to him in the best.
Will you join me in my goal to delight in the Lord this week? Will you lift your eyes from the circumstances of life, whether good or painful, up to the God who never changes? I want to chase after him all my days: depending on him for all that I need, instead of the things of life. We can trust him to be all that he promises to be.
This sunny, warm weather has been AMAZING. I feel like I’m coming alive from the dead! Spring is transforming everything, slowly and surely. The snow is shrinking, and more people are out and about. The windows are open in my apartment. I stashed my winter coat in the closet, to be replaced by one half the weight. The roads are finally ice and snow-free. Even feeling the warmth of the sun on my back is a welcome surprise!
I love that God gives us seasons here, that there is always a new thing coming. It’s crazy how long we can bear the nasty cold and snow, but the moment we get a breath of spring, it’s all over. We relish the sun, we ache for newness!
I’m feeling the same ache in my spiritual life too. When I sat down to write this blog post, I paged through my journal to see what God’s been teaching me. That’s usually how I approach picking a topic and writing. But honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot there. Even though I’ve been spending time in the Bible, my journal was mostly a jumble of me summarizing passages I’d read. Not much evidence of life change or pondering big lessons from God.
And while it’s sad, I realize that it’s okay. It’s normal to sometimes feel close to God, like you’re learning and changing every day, and sometimes feel duller: even plateaued in growth. It’s not a reason to panic! God’s love for us never changes based on our moods, thoughts, or growth.
But, I also know that we can ask him for change! I can watch the world blossom into Spring and ask God to bring new sun and growth to my spiritual life, too.
It’s a gift to live in this beautiful world and know our gracious and patient God!
Last month, Brian flew to Fargo and proposed! The whole thing was a surprise, and he coordinated with my roommates to make it the most exciting and sweet day ever. I am so giddy about marrying my best friend and starting our lives together! And ever since that day, with a ring on my left hand, I’ve become a wedding-planning maniac.
I’m writing about this for a few reasons: 1) It’s a major part of my life right now and I want to share it with you, 2) I want to show the reality of being engaged, not only the cute pictures that make relationships look flawless, and 3) God has taught me a lot in this season.
Let me start by saying that being engaged is truly awesome. Brian and I have been dating for almost three years and have known for a large chunk of that time that we wanted to get married. There are so many things I respect and love about him, and officially taking a step towards marriage is crazy exciting! I don’t take it lightly that I have an amazing human committed to me for life. Plus, I get to use the fancy word ‘fiancé’ instead of ‘boyfriend’ now!
The daunting task of planning
Over my spring break last week, I really jumped into the wedding-planning process. I made an extensive spreadsheet, sent (what felt like) thousands of emails, calculated prices, talked to my parents, looked at photos for inspiration, worried about money. . . you get it. I was over my head in information and dedicated to making the day look like my Pinterest board. This was my laser focus for the whole week.
And then I stressed out to the point of ugly-crying three times in one evening.
Yep, that’s the real me. Thankfully, getting back into the routine of college has brought me some sanity and time apart from thinking about all there is to be done. But this struggle isn’t really a surprise. I’ve talked lots on this blog about my battle with control and wanting to plan everything to perfection: and my wedding is a huge test in that area!
God has given me so many bits of wisdom that relate directly to this. For example, I recently heard this in a sermon: when you’re trying to make a decision, you should ask “what would bring God the most glory?” I hate to admit it, but that caught me by surprise. Wedding planning is composed of one billion tiny decisions, and so I was like, “Oh yeah! This can be an opportunity to glorify God!”
I had gotten so wrapped up in the surface details and appearance of it all that I forgot about the most important thing. I, in effect, was striving towards my own glory and exhausting myself! I realize that my focus in having a wedding shouldn’t be to impress people or feel fancy, but to celebrate love, thank God, and start a marriage. I’m excited to continue planning with these things in mind!
Look under the surface
I hope this encourages you to look beyond the surface of decisions and happenings, and glimpse God’s purpose. Because really, it doesn’t matter whether my wedding has lavish flowers or folding chairs or a plated meal or a pretty building. What matters is the meaning behind it all: that Brian and I want to start a God-honoring marriage that reflects Christ.
Now, think about your life. What has been consuming your plans and thoughts lately? Look under the surface.
What deeper purpose can you find?
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!