Links Daily Devotional

With God Now and Forever

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30, NIV)

Years ago I erroneously thought the Christian life would be boring and common. I thought it was about do’s and don’ts that take all the fun away.

In my mind, the Christian walk could never be the abundant life of vacations on remote islands with private white sandy beaches, pristine fairways, and perfect greens. The lifestyles of the rich and famous do not promote quiet times with God or Scripture memory. Maybe I had yet to discover this Aristotle quote: “Expectation is the greater joy.” My expectations of the good life apart from Christianity were quite high!

What I came to discover was not what I anticipated. I found that it is difficult to have experiences in this world that are ultimately and infinitely fulfilling. The world can bring many brief times of happiness (momentary pleasure based on circumstances). Such events or places are good but don’t sustain us for long. They are fun for a day or maybe a week, but they don’t provide the nourishment we really need to live the abundant life. A steady diet of even the best the world has to offer lacks permanence.

God, however, brings inner joy that sustains us regardless of circumstances. It is a joy that never leaves us.

François Fénelon, a spiritual advisor to a small number of earnest people in the Court of Louis XIV in the 17th Century, shed light on this dilemma. He said: “All earthly delights are sweeter in expectation than in enjoyment; but all spiritual pleasures are more in fruition than in expectation.”

Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about when he asked the disciples to come follow him. He who wants the best for us also desires to give us exactly that when we make him the priority. He designed and wired us this way. The words of Saint Augustine are most appropriate: “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Or as Pascal put it, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, and only God can fill it.”

And here is the great news. You don’t have to leave your neighborhood or change jobs or enter the ministry in order to experience this abundant life now. You don’t even have to leave this world. The abundant life with Jesus does not in any way exempt us from inevitable suffering but sustains us during the suffering. Experience tells me this is the truth. Our wisdom from the Scriptures verifies this truth. Doesn’t it make sense that God who created us for a purpose has mechanism built in us for meaning, significance, and joy that only he could fill? It would be just like God to do exactly that. Grateful now and ultimately fulfilled later.

Randy Wolff
June 5, 2014
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