I recently installed a new showerhead in one of our bathrooms. It is has a dual sprayer, one on the wall, and one on a hose. I handed JJ the showerhead when I put him in, and he was elated! The ability to spray himself in the face had him ecstatically giggling the whole time.
This got me thinking about simple pleasures, joy and the only source of lasting joy. There are simple pleasures that light up our life and make us happy. Family vacations, trips to the beach, taking a walk on a quiet morning and seeing the sun creep over the hills, or the waters horizon. Getting our hands dirty in the garden. Spraying ourselves in the face.
There are things that bring deeper joy. Holding a new child brings you a feeling that is much deeper than happiness, more satisfying and joy creating. It doesn’t matter if the baby is yours or someone else’s. Recently I held my brother’s son, and bouncing him, brought me a sense of joy. Since then, I found myself thinking about the words of “He lives”("How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives"), and how soon I would be holding our new baby, Amélie Maryse Chechile. But far beyond anything else is that the one thing alone that brings everlasting joy; is the grace of our lord Jesus Christ that is brought to bear through the gospel. The result of encountering the Lord through his saving grace is that we are justified, redeemed, made part of His family, the church, and drawn into relationship with God Himself. This is an awesome reality. Really stop and think about it. We are brought into relationship with God, accomplished through the cross for broken sinners. All too often we talk about heaven, and being forgiven, but none of that is worth anything if not for this glorious reality, we are drawn into relationship with the God of the universe forever! What was lost in Eden is restored through the cross. The result of the gospel is not just that we are no longer sinners, or get to go to a nebulous place of no suffering, but that we are drawn into relationship with the God of the universe forever! We are saved into that wonderful reality! We get to see and savor God forever!
This is the only source of true joy that will last. This is the only source that strengthens us, as we stand by the side of loved ones, and face the uncertainty of life. No matter what comes, we get God! We live in relationship with God the father, through his risen Son, and someday we will see him face to face! Those who are in Christ face an eternity in relationship with the God who knit us together in their mother’s womb. God in his great mercy “has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you”(1Peter 1:3-4 ).
I remind you of this here at the beginning of the summer for three reasons.
First, because here at summer, it’s so easy to lose sight of the true source of everlasting joy, and lose sight of the gospel. It’s easy to get caught up in the weeds of life, the cares of this world, as Jesus pictured them in the Parable of the Sower.
Second, here in this year that is being marked by a contentious political fight, it’s easy to get distracted by the nature of our nation’s political discourses, and find your hope and joy in the idea of your guy winning (whichever side you are on). That’s a foolish place to look for joy. Politicians promise a saving joy they cannot deliver. Buyer beware! Psalm 146 reminds us, put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. (Psalm 146:3-4).
Third, I have been reminded time and again that the only joy that lasts is found in knowing Christ our Lord. All other sources of joy fade and fail you. As the spring has passed, I’ve seen my once fun grandfather turn into a grumpy, miserable old man struggling with losing his faculties. I’ve seen members of the church struggle with their health, and stood with families at graveside and been reminded of the passing nature of this life. These things are part of life in this fallen world. They will always be part of life in this fallen world. Nothing will change it on the side of Christ’s return. The flowers will fade. The leaves will fall, and the things that bring pleasure and joy will fade. But one thing will remain, unbroken for eternity, the joy that comes from knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Enjoy the summer. Rejoice and find pleasure in the good things that God allows you to do. Remember that your true Savior and source of joy is, Christ the crucified king, the one who died and rose, that you might live. Keep your eye always on Him; Keep your eye on the grace of God that poured out through the cross. Find your true joy there, because that will be a source of lasting joy that does not spoil or fade. Ever.
Note- this post appeared in the july-august edition of the First Baptist Church newsletter.