I’ve had some time to practice being still recently while working on recovery from a knee issue. The doctor suggested I spend some time reading (in response to my whine about boredom). This all coming after my exploratory plunge into finding joy! Call me cranky pants! Now, I know what you’re thinking….time laying around! Sounds great! Well, let me tell you….it’s fun for about a day. It becomes taxing pretty quickly so I needed to find something to occupy my mind. So, doctor’s orders!
Most recently, I’ve begun “What Good is God?” by Philip Yancey. He visited my church last year shortly before Christmas so I had the opportunity to have him sign a few items for gifts, but I kept this one for myself….in that unread pile on my office floor. Pulling books out of the stack of unread works are like finding hidden gems! (That’s joy!) So after digging it out of the stack, I nuzzled in for a read. Yancey has met with ten varied groups of people in varying stages of life crisis and how God fits into those moments.
I was struck by a quote of C.S. Lewis in Yancey’s book, “Pride….is the mother of all sins, and the original sin of Lucifer….I am an instrument strung but preferring to play itself because it thinks it knows the tune better than the Musician.” Like I read it about five times.
Hmmm…..Pride is a sin of Satan, because he believes he can do it better on his own. I hadn’t ever thought of the world in quite that way before. Isn’t that how we feel as well…about many things? Most things?
How often I make my own music because I am like a player piano on auto-pilot; when I could be looking to the composer/conductor for cues. Here I have the capability to make beautiful music, but I so often choose to play out of tune on my own volition. When I am out of alignment with God’s will for my life, how can I possibly expect there to be a beautiful symphony? My head hurts from thinking now.
Jeremiah was a prophet during the final days of the kingdom of Judah. In the first Old Testament chapter begins with “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”” (Jer 1:4-5, NASB)
That speaks to what C.S. Lewis was trying to get at, that we are created as fully functioning strung instruments. God knew us before he created with us. He created us each with a specific and unique purpose. Isn’t that the most amazing thing, and at the same time one of the hardest things to truly accept?
Jeremiah wanted the people of Judah to understand that God’s promises would be fulfilled, but only after a period of exile and judgment. They would have to be obedient and faithful, certainly, but God’s promises would be fulfilled indeed.
For some reason, Jeremiah 31:20 keeps returning to me, “Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him,” declares the Lord.” (NIV)
We know that the term Ephraim was often used as a term for Israel. So the Lord was reminding the people of Israel of his promise of restoration. God delights in his children as a parent might. Even though they do things outside rightness at times, or against a parent’s will, it does not diminish the love that exists.
What I take from this is the unsettled assurance that even when I take matters of life into my own hands and attempt to do things on my own rather than asking for and applying guidance, my Father in Heaven loves me still (Joy! Joy! Joy!).
Even when I am guilty of performing an off-key instrumental solo, my Father still sits in the sidelines calling me gently back to him, yearning for me to run into his waiting arms. When one has that kind of love waiting on the sidelines, how can one not have joy? Perhaps now that I can see it in a slightly different light that it’s actually a form of pride to believe that I can handle things on my own I’ll now be more motivated to seek out God’s will for myself moving forward.
God wants to restore us to wholeness, and through that He wants us to know joy here on earth, as a picture of what waits for us in the hereafter. Not the temporary, happy feeling, but real, deep, assured joy. He also wants us to receive his promises to be fully functioning instruments in concert with the rest of the symphony, according to his score. God is so good.
May your faith matter.
Note: More info on Philip Yancey’s work What Good is God? In Search of a Faith that Matters is available from http://www.philipyancey.com/what-good-is-god