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Posts Tagged ‘Enjoy God’

Remember Christmas morning as a child—the first glimpse of the enticing packages tucked under the tree?  Did you hop and clap with delight?

Or how about that winning touchdown for your team—in the last few moments of the game with your school’s arch rival? Did you jump up and shout in celebration?

Perhaps a family member or dear friend recently announced glorious news—a baby on the way, better employment obtained, or a clean bill of health finally received.  Did you find yourself dancing for joy?

Over-the-top pleasure and exciting events will do that to us. And although the body may no longer respond with hops, jumps, or dance, our spirits certainly soar in the moment.

photography by Nicole Sánchez : love.nimagens.com

The prophet Habakkuk of Old Testament times wrote about just such a response.  I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased the verse: “I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God” (Habakkuk 3:18 MSG). Sounds like the prophet received the answer to a heartfelt prayer or perhaps a miracle had occurred.

Truth is, Habakkuk’s home city of Jerusalem faced imminent invasion by the brutal Babylonians.  Recent conquests of other kingdoms left no question about the city’s fate.

God had made clear why disaster loomed.  The people of Jerusalem had continually ignored his wise ways and reveled in wickedness. Multiple warnings had been proclaimed and disregarded.

In response God was about to provide a means of saving his people—not from the ruin of their city—but from the ruin of their souls.  He would allow the invasion and a period of captivity in a foreign culture 900 miles away (Isaiah 39:5-8; Jeremiah 25:1-11).

(Isaiah foretold this scene in the latter half of the eighth century BC,
Jeremiah in 605 BC. The invasion took place in 586 BC.)

Habakkuk questioned God’s decision, wondering why he would allow the Babylonians, a people more wicked than the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to “swallow those who are more righteous than they are (Habakkuk 1:13)?”

By the end of his book, however, the prophet’s doubts had turned to faith and he declared—in the face of calamity–“Yet I will celebrate the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (3:18 NIV).

The word rejoice in this verse is ‘alaz’ in the original Hebrew, and means to “spin around for joy.”* Can you imagine? Disaster loomed. All Habakkuk had ever known would be destroyed.  If not killed, he would be forced into captivity in a hostile country.

Yet Habakkuk determined to dance for joy in his spirit—spin cartwheels even.

How does a person acquire such joy? Not by setting her sights on things that make her momentarily happy.  Deep-down dancing joy grows in proportion to our trust in God, and our trust grows in proportion to our knowledge of God—knowledge gained as we spend time in His Word.

We’d also do well to remember the close relationship between joy and gratitude.

As 2022 unfolds, a number of crises threaten—in our cities and states, our country, and around the world.  With Habakkuk of old we have a choice: to sink into despair over the real possibility of disaster, or to rejoice in our God who will enable us to endure whatever we may face (James 1:2-4).

It is our turn to spin for joy–in the God of our salvation!

*Linda Dillow, Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, 202.

Art & photo credits: http://www.flickr.com; http://www.love.nimages.com; http://www.maxpixelnet; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.pixabay.com.

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Girl-praying

Long ago in Sunday School, our teachers taught us proper respect for God. The rules of reverence included:

  1. Be quiet and solemn in worship.
  2. Bow your head, close your eyes, and fold your hands to pray.
  3. Always treat God’s house with utmost respect. Never run.
  4. Never place your Bible on the floor.

The first rule was the most difficult to keep. I failed many a Sunday. My legs wanted to swing, my hands wished for crayons and paper, my eyes longed for a book. Sitting still in church was tortuous.

Years later as an adult, I came across the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a list of 107 questions and answers that explain the Christian faith.

The first question asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer shocked me.

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”

The beginning of the statement made perfect sense. Paul clearly stated: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

But I was caught off guard by the second part.

Enjoy God?”

That was a startling, new idea for me, even though the Shorter Catechism has been in use since 1647. (Yes, that was well before my days in Sunday School.)

That new idea warranted further consideration. Did I enjoy God?

His blessings and benefits certainly brought me joy. But God himself? How could I enjoy Someone who’s invisible and rarely speaks audibly?

As the years have passed, I’ve discovered that, although God deserves the utmost reverence and respect, we need not always be solemn. We can laugh and sing for joy in his presence (Psalm 68:3 MSG).

In fact, enthusiastic praise of God, especially in the company of others, is an invigorating way to enjoy him. We can revel in who he is—our God of goodness, grace, and love. We can celebrate what he has done—supplying our needs, guiding the way, and surprising us with gifts we didn’t even ask for.

While we’re worshiping, we can lift our hands toward God (Psalm 63:4). That simple act alone, symbolizing our openness,  augments our connection to him.

hands raised in prayer

Even hands placed palms up on the lap can add to our enjoyment of God. Steve and I learned this posture from one of his professors, when he attended seminary. After a teaching session on prayer, Dr. Stanger instructed us to place our hands in our laps, palms up. We sat in silence for a few moments, and suddenly I felt a tingling in my hands! Was the Spirit of God actually holding my hands as we prepared to pray?

Dr. Stanger explained that the pressure on the backs of our hands was causing the phenomenon.   But wasn’t it wonderful to imagine God gracing each of us with his personal touch? Yes, supremely delightful.

We can also take the celebration outside and enjoy God as the Creator and King of the universe. Look to the sky and contemplate the galaxies of stars in infinite space. Smile at him in wonder because each one of those infinite celestial bodies is under his control.

110822102057-large

Another way to enjoy God is to take delight in his scripture. We can express appreciation to him for the strength, comfort, and peace his Word provides, as well as those passages that are the joy of our hearts (Psalm 119:111).

Those of us who like to write find great joy in composing journal entries, poetry, personal psalms, and more, addressed to God, as a way of expressing our pleasure in him. Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling, has inspired some of us to follow her example and go a step further: record thoughts or impressions we receive from God as we wait in his presence.

In these ways and more God has made it possible for us to enjoy him now and forever.

Psalm 89 15, 16(1)

 “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,

Who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.

They rejoice in your name all day long;

They exult in your righteousness.

For you are their glory and strength”

(Psalm 89:15-16).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Dare I say it?  Is it too irreverent? You are FUN, God! I love spending time with you, rejoicing in you, celebrating your works, reveling in your presence, taking delight in our communication back and forth. What a glorious privilege you have granted us, Father, to nestle close to you and experience fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore.  Thank you for being our ultimate delight!

(Psalm 100:1-2; John 10:27; Psalm 65:2; Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 16:11)

 

What are some ways YOU enjoy God?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

(Photo credits:  www.imgarcade.com; http://www.pam-intheshadowof his wings.blogspot.com; http://www.sciencedaily.com; www. specificfeeds.com.)

 

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