About this time of the year when in this part of the country (western Michigan) the autumn skies are beginning to turn to the dark, heavy clouds of winter, it seems like a certain level of discouragement can set in as the joy of our active, outdoor lifestyle in the bright summer sun has faded from our memory. The bright and hopeful educational beginnings of August and September have perhaps run head-on into difficulties demonstrated by fellow Christians in getting along in community together. Egos may drive a wedge between individuals and consequently organizations, and keep us from accomplishing the kingdom because we sometimes prize our own goals more highly and lose sight of obedience. How can we hope to be bringing transformation and renewal to our world when sin is prevalent each day in our own lives, in our motives, in our hearts? How can we nurture faith in youth when our own relationships and actions are broken?
How can we put aside what holds us back and press on to a higher calling (paraphrasing Paul)? What should our focus be? First we need to remember to rest in the Lord and take delight in Him. David reminds us in Psalm 20 that we are about making garlands for God’s victory parade, not polishing the chariot or grooming the horses. (The Message) Our egos and our institutions sometimes are the chariots and horses – while we have important goals we must first remember to maintain our focus on the victory of the Lamb and the celebration of his coming kingdom. Lift up your heads! We are created for joy! As John Piper points out, when we look at the phrase, “What is the chief end of man?”, the author uses the word end and not ends – therefore in the answer we are made to both glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We live in the certainty of the coming of His Kingdom, in spite of our failings! He has given us work to do that He has laid out for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10) and through His Spirit “equips us to do that which is pleasing in His sight.” Let’s get in the game He has given us to play and play with purpose and passion – leaving it all on the field – expending our lives as an offering of joy to our Lord! May that joy propel you into a deep season of gratitude and delight!
While our Thanksgiving times in October (Canada) and November (United States) have grown out of an agrarian schedule, this time of year remains a great time for reflection and thanks as we get ready to celebrate the coming of the Christ child into our world. What are the ways this week that we can express our joy and gratitude in very specific ways? How can we combat discouragement and malaise? Let’s take opportunity in this coming week to encourage a student, a teacher, or administrator as an act of our gratitude to our God and as an expression of our joy in Him.