I'm a mess. I had a great conversation with a friend the other night about the desperate need our country has for God. America has told God to leave the country, and He's not one to force Himself where He's not wanted. We talked about how the concept of encouraging greatness - not just success or wealth, but encouraging someone's capacity to really be great - has fallen by the wayside, about how it's rare to see people that are passionate about what they do. The very presence of God is encouraging, and inspires people to do more, to be more, than they otherwise would. Because with God, we're part of His plan, part of something bigger. It's not just about working this job to get enough money to buy nice things and impress all our neighbors. It's about living passionately in the joy of Christ. Think about that for a minute. Living in joy.
I'm reading a book right now called Desiring God, by John Piper. It's all about what he calls Christian Hedonism - living and displaying the joy of God, which can be found no where else and which is utterly life changing. Because unlike everything else in our world, the joy that's found in God is unconditional.
My life often fails to live up to this. I make a concentrated effort to spend time with God every day. After all, if it's the most important relationship I have, shouldn't I be nurturing it? I go out of my way to encourage my relationships with my siblings, with my parents, with my friends. But for whatever reason, sometimes my efforts in my relationship with God seem to slide. And even though I can see it happening, most of the time I don't do anything about it right away. Maybe one night I'm up really late so my quiet time doesn't get done. It's not a humongous deal. But then the next night something happens, and it doesn't get done again. My mornings may get rushed and then my Scripture memorization time slides. And this will go on for a week before I stop and say, Wait a minute. I don't like who I am when I'm not abiding in God. I'm jealous and petty and unforgiving. I become less responsible. I become insecure and irritable and self-involved.
After a week or so, I look at myself and I have to bonk myself on the head, because I did it again. I've done this so many times; don't you think I'd learn? God changes me. When I'm dwelling in and on His love instead of on all the frustrating and irritating things that happen during my day-to-day life, I'm happy, and I'm content, and I'm able to focus on others and on loving on and encouraging them. And that's how I want to be. Getting by is not good enough. Just like our country has done, when I ignore God, I start to lose my desire for greatness, my passion for life and for the things I love doing. I can get so wrapped up in what I'm doing that I totally forget that there are bigger things, that I'm part of a bigger plan - His plan. I want my life to be great. Not that I need success or wealth or to be famous or anything like that, because you can be great without any of those things. I want my life to be great in the way it honors God and brings glory to His Name.
I want to stand on the rooftops and persuade passers-by that God is the answer to their problems. He gives us hope. He loves us unconditionally. He delights in us. As the song goes, "I know I am loved by the King." Those are small sentences, but huge concepts. They're things that have changed my life, that have changed me, from the inside out. When I look at who I'd be without Him, who I am when I haven't been spending any time with Him, I'm reminded of just how important it is for God to be my everything. The pleasure and joy I gain in spending time with Him outweighs any excuse I have to spend that time any other way.