Delight, then duty

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Is your life, like mine, filled with things that must be done – the oughta’s, shoulda’s, gotta’s?  I awakened this morning with a list running through my mind … better get those branches picked up after yesterday’s storm, get prepared for that meeting, write that email, make that call.

Then, as I sat to read the Word, I paused to watch 3 birds at the feeder outside of the window. Do birds play? It sure looked like it. They fluttered up in the air, dove down, rose up, and landed again on the feeder. They reminded me of Jesus’ words – “Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (Matthew 6:26, The Message)

I am not throwing away my responsibilities. Chaos is the default setting of a life without discipline. But, duty without delight is drudgery. Jesus invites us to joy, to the ‘abundant life.’

How easily our practice of the Christian life becomes a list of oughta’s, shoulda’s!
“Go to church!
Read the Bible!
Pray! Tithe!
Overcome temptation!
Serve faithfully!”

It is critically important that we remember the “why” of those choices. We cannot slip into the deception that we must work harder to earn what He freely gives us through Christ. We are beloved children of the Heavenly Father called to delight in knowing Him, not just being His servants.

In the recent months I have been carrying the weight of disappointment, wrestling with discerning the ‘next step’ for the church I serve, and praying in faith in the face of persistent problems. It has been a soul-numbing time.  Worship can be difficult. Prayer can be hard. I sometimes feel an irrational guilt- “What kind of Christian are you, Jerry, that you let life become so weighty, that you lose your ability to enjoy the holy Presence of God?”  My experience is not unique! Perhaps you, too, are walking through a time like that or you have.

Let the Word silence the accusing voices of your mind or those demons that desire your destruction. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)  Set you mind on the wisdom of the Psalm that teaches us to “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:7, NLT)

There is comfort in the knowledge that “the One who watches over you will not sleep.” (Psalm 121) Even when we rest, our Father is active. He pursues us, loves us, surrounds us with His grace – everywhere and all the time.

Feeling the pressure? Tempted to rachet up the effort to regain control?
Pause, reflect on His promise.
Love Him, quietly, by faith. Then, take up your responsibilities.
Delight, then duty.

Here’s a word from the Word.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and
beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” (Psalm 63:1-5, NIV)

_________

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river
Attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say
It is well
It is well with my soul

It is well with my soul, It is well
It is well with my soul

Tho’ Satan should buffet
Tho’ trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ hath regarded
My helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood
For my soul

My sin O the bliss
Of this glorious tho’t
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross
And I bear it no more
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord O my soul

And Lord haste the day
When the faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend
Even so it is well
With my soul

Horatio Gates Spafford | Philip Paul Bliss © Words: Public Domain

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