A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse


A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Worship

I have the amazing ability to take something that is absolutely beautiful and poke holes in it by pointing out how it just didn’t quite perfectly meet up to my expectations, thus denigrating its potential impact in my life....or even worse, in another’s life, when I choose to open my trap and expound on such disappointments, in all my blowharded insightfulness.

Sometimes the beautiful thing I poke holes in is a person, which never fails to present airtight evidence that I can be a marvelous Pharisee when left spiritually unchecked. I detest my idealism and its specificity at times. And yet, underneath this, in its purest form, God created me to be a visionary, and in order to be a fruitful one, I must carry the picture of perfection that He places in me. I long for the day of maturity to come when this gift is only used in life-giving ways.....that is, when I can perfectly interpret what perfection really means to Him.

I went to a concert on Saturday night, a concert that the particular friend I went with and I have been planning to attend for a few years now, and I carried in my expectations of what I wanted out of this concert and how I wanted to grow. But I almost missed the beautiful message God had for me. I’d been longing for a night being swept away in worship-filled music so I could just unleash what feels like has been held back and make the words my own.

It didn’t go that way. There was some of this, yes, and it was pure and inspiring, but the majority of the songs that night were focused on us as God’s children and the power of grace and healing in our lives, freeing us to serve Him, as opposed to praise-filled melodies devoted to God for who He is. It wasn’t initially what I wanted.

But it was exactly what I needed.

I’m in a place where God has shown me a path I’m to take. He’s given me a mission and a message and the gifts to carry them out, and what I needed was to witness someone else – in this case, the band - doing just that with their own lives. I saw these blessed, chosen, gifted musicians doing exactly what they were created to do, presenting the message placed in them to give, and absolutely free to express their creativity in doing so because they know who they each are in Christ, and that all they have flows through Him. Idea after idea poured into my heart of things I wanted to do in service and ways I could draw closer to God just by accepting the freedom to creatively worship with my life. For me, that means releasing my fear that all the deficiencies I see in my character and abilities will always be obstacles too great to bear any real fruit.

Worship is deeper than sitting in church with others at a prescribed time. Being together in this way is a crucial element in a life of worship because of the strength, connection, and even correction we are designed to need from each other, but worship itself is about having a focused, longing, broken, devoted heart before God. Whenever and wherever my heart is in line with God’s, and I wouldn’t have it any other way no matter what it costs me, I am worshipping Him.

As the night went on and the band’s glorious message seeped into my spirit, the realization hit me that God was using this time to reach me yet again, preparing me to continue forward in where He’s leading me, assuring me that He will work within my weakness and all my awkwardness, and isn’t surprised by the forgiven sin I’ve come to hate in my life. Whatever crustiness had built up lately was gently scraped off.

How perfectly He knows me.

It all sank in, and I found myself falling into my most natural stance when before Him in corporate worship. I simply fold my hands, lift my face, sometimes singing and sometimes not. I felt my spirit find His, my heart align with His for whatever He wants, and then return to the music, each word becoming part of my own story.

I am free to live alive in Christ.

Worship indeed.


Monday, March 28, 2011

True Love

I remember seventh grade. I moved to a new state that year and what a hard time in life to start over with new people and places. Some good friendships budded but I still found myself mired in adolescent angst – real and manufactured – and searching for ways to cope with it.

So logically I found the prescription in hair metal. It was the late ‘80s, after all, where nearly every popular fad seems highly questionable now as to whether some sort of alien force had introduced nitrous oxide into the air in order to convince all of us that these things were sophisticated ideas. How many different colors of Aqua Net bottles did we need?

But I digress. I remember finding such solace in the metal tunes. They spoke to the turmoil I was feeling inside. Def Leppard would scream from my boombox: “Love bites, love bleeds, it’s bringing me to my knees......” Sing it, brother! They just knew!

Love.

So not what we think it is.

I am blessed with many brilliant friends. Speaking with one a week or so ago, she said that “in our culture, we show love by agreeing with each other,” and she’s right. That is how we show what we think love is......but that’s really just a silent decision to not bring a particular element of conflict into a relationship. And sometimes that particular element of conflict so desperately needs introduced.

Today I read John 15, one of the most intimate passages of scripture in regards to how beautiful Jesus views His relationship with us. He is the Vine. We are the branches, connected to Him, called to bear fruit to bring glory to the Father’s name. He calls us friends. He tells us that He and the Father will come and make Their home in us. He tells us He loves us. And He tells us if we aren’t bearing fruit by staying grounded in Him, we’ll be cut off.

That adds a little bit of conflict, I would say.

Again I’m reminded when I read scripture how the purpose of my life really just isn’t about me finding whatever it is that brings fulfillment and parking myself there until I feel like moving onto the next thing, assuming His blessings suggest that the pursuit of happiness is the goal I should constantly have in front of me. I’m here for a purpose that is about something far more wonderful and significant and important than claiming my imagined right to breathe easily in life.

Love is an action taken, a word spoken, and perhaps sometimes a feeling experienced that is saturated with the decision to relate to the other in a way that prioritizes his or her best interests - affection for this particular person notwithstanding, although that generally helps. Life is much more rewarding when we choose to believe that there’s something likeable about everyone, even if it needs to be gently mined by showing him or her that we believe it’s there.

But anyway....best interests for what? As a Christian, it means that we long to see the other in perfect relationship with God. Her gifts passionately used for His glory. His heart made whole by God’s presence and then presented to the world as a living testimony. Her whole self abandoned in worship. His life filled with joy from knowing the truth of who he is in Christ.

When we come to the awareness that this is love, and begin to grasp the staggering reality that this abundance is what God desires for us – not more than anything else, because there is nothing else – His goodness shines across the ocean of our existence in a way that makes it so we can’t help but dive in to feel its warmth. The cross is Jesus’ way of telling us that nothing matters to Him except fulfilling His vision of seeing us in perfect relationship with God. That is love. And that is what we’re called to do for each other.

That’s worth the conflict that may be brought into our relationships, because what godly love from one to another truly boils down to is simply sharing the vision you decide to have of the other abounding in joy, celebrating with his Father.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Handing Over the Paddles

There’s a visual formed in my mind lately of a man lying on a hospital bed. His eyes remain closed and the life-support beeps away. He’s lost inside a coma, although I’m not sure if it’s a medically-induced coma, or if it’s due to natural causes or whatever disease or injury may have put him there. With the machines going, his breathing seems absolutely fine. We are all alone, or so it seems, as I sit watching him, having something at stake in how greatly I care for this man. But a few times, I’ve wondered if it’s been best to pull the plug purely to put us both out of our misery – either he’ll make it or it will finally be over. What happens when I do so, though, convinces me that I have to grab the paddles. I charge his chest, crying out for God to save him. He opens his eyes, recognizes me, and we reconnect for a little while, but then his eyes begin to close and he drifts back into his deepened sleep, and the machines beep away, and again I sit there watching him, wondering what’s to come of all of this. Because I don’t know what will happen if I’m not there holding the paddles......can I just close the door and walk out of the room and trust the machines to keep him going? How long can I go on with this saga?


There’s something I know God’s been leading me to loosen my grip on for a long time. And I’ve done so. It’s something precious to me, something that I really don’t want to lose, but also wonder if perhaps whatever good was designed to come out of it already has and that it’s time to move on. The man in this vision is the personification of this very special treasure.

But I also sense that maybe when, in my vision of this man, the plug is pulled and I start to panic because of the signs I see in front of me, I’m assuming that his death is quickly on its way. Maybe what is appearing to me as an indication of impending doom is in fact an indication of something else entirely.....maybe behind the wailing beeps and underneath the bodily failures lay the seeds of revitalization and renewal. Maybe I’m not supposed to concede this precious thing’s death but instead concede its death as I know it. Maybe it is going to re-enter my life someday in a new way, one that I could never take credit for creating, saving, or even imagine was possible.

But maybe it won’t.

Either way, I’m tiring of pulling plugs and holding paddles and feeling the anguished tension inside of not being able to walk away, as if the life and death of something cherished rest in my hands. I must realize that I am not the Great Physician, and I can’t force healing onto something that isn’t meant to be healed, at least not back into the state it previously existed in. I also can’t trust in my ability to determine what will come of this seeming dormancy. It’s time to trust that the patient is in the real Physician’s hands; trust in the Physician’s judgment on what is best for everyone involved, and also trust that the Physician knows how valuable to me the patient is. And trust that when I leave the room, leaving my beloved patient in the messy, agonizing state that he’s in, the Physician will come and find me when and if the patient awakens into his new life, as He would want me to celebrate, too.

Sometimes the greatest measure of self-control lies in our willingness to unleash the unknown.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Self-Control

Self-control: the terrifying battle within between our spirit crying out to prioritize God’s will and our flesh demanding that we prioritize our own.

I’m a person prone to extremes. If I taste something and find that I like it, my tendency is to barrel towards it with abandonment and consume, even though what’s really happening is that it’s consuming me. This is one reason why I don’t drink any alcohol. Besides really just not having any use for it or needlessly spending extra money in this manner, I’m afraid if I came to truly enjoy it, I’d keep consuming more. I’m usually one bad decision away from becoming an addict in regards to anything I enjoy.

I’m inclined towards extreme shopping in the love of finding a great bargain, extreme friendship out of a desire for deep connection, and extreme eating. And while I have humbled myself and learned over the years how to handle the first two so I’m not (usually, anyway, so) destructive, after some cringe-worthy situations I’ve gotten myself into, the eating extreme threatens me as if I were standing out on the Atlantic coastline just foolishly disregarding the looming hurricane. I know it’s out there, and if I don’t take the precautions to protect myself and leave the area, it will destroy me.

The extreme eating is one of my biggest stumbling blocks right now to living fully alive: that is, chasing the revealed and unrevealed plans God has for me and conditioning myself in every manner – spiritually, physically, mentally – to be prepared to honor Him in how I react to anything that comes my way.

God is working on me with this. See, I know I can get a handle on it. I lost 50 pounds a few years back, entirely on an exercise and meal plan that I created for myself and self-disciplined to follow, which I say not to toot my horn but merely to show that I know it’s within me to do it. But I also know that God shrouded me in a period of desire and will during that time which strengthened me to say no to my temptations. I’ve been pleading with Him for the last two years to give that to me again, now that I’m 20+ pounds over from what I lost.

He won’t.

There’s a deeper issue to be dealt with this time, and it’s one that He wants me to take the initiative on and claim for myself, purely because I want the adventure He’s placed before me and therefore will do whatever it takes to condition myself to be ready to do His work. I’m being led to give greater attention and energy into temple-maintenance: the temple being me, as it is within me that His Spirit resides (as it is within you, if you love Him and believe), and one key to this is self-control. I’m reading through John right now, and in John 2, Jesus knocks over the tables in the temple in holy anger to remove from the temple what does not belong there (this phrasing was used by one of the brilliant speakers at the writing conference I recently attended), and I know He is telling me that I have to take control of my own temple so that it is a place fit for Him to reside. I do that by purifying and condition – and resting – my mind, body, and spirit, by removing all that doesn’t belong; exercising myself mentally, by challenging my mind with deeper, healthier thought so I am prepared to know and speak and fight for and love with the truth; physically, by keeping fit as much as I am able to so I can go where I am sent and can endure what I’m called to, eating for only the right reasons, and unapologetically letting myself rejuvenate (I’m trying so hard to talk my husband into realizing that I need more frequent massages!); and spiritually, by bringing my study and prayer time to a higher, fruit-bearing quality by abiding in Him, and being focused on following His will in all things. John 2:17 quotes Psalm 69:9 in saying that, in their startled reaction to Jesus’ anger as He cleared out the temple, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for Your house will consume me’”.

Yes, this passage is referring to the church. We need to have zeal for the church – the church, meaning the Body of Christ, charged with the task of going out into the world and creating disciples of all nations. We need to have zeal for our individual churches, too, and all the different levels of churches and individuals this speaks to. But in a new way, I see how this is speaking to me personally as His temple.

Zeal for Your house will consume me.

I am claiming this now as another step in the adventure.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spiritual Terrorism

A terrorist, really, is one whose goal is to rip away hope by bringing a message of death, often as a means of coercion. Spiritual terrorism is precisely the same thing: it suggests to its target that he is too far gone from God’s reach, therefore ripping hope away, and the message left is simply that the target is doomed. We see this in our country today in some particularly overt and vile manners.


Any time I distort the message of grace by suggesting that a specific person or type of person is outside of God’s reach (that is, His ability to save them from their sins and themselves), I become a spiritual terrorist. I’m also a spiritual terrorist if I choose to avoid the truth of someone’s sin if I know I’m being called to speak to it. It may not seem as if I am ripping away hope – in fact, the silence may serve to confer a false hope since then by assumption there's no wrong to correct - but I am.....if I never witness to the promise of hope that exists for the sinner, it is as if I am removing the person’s chance of ever claiming it for herself through the blood of Jesus. Without the hope of Christ’s resurrection, she is certainly left for death in every form.


So what does this speak to in regards to gentleness? Gentleness is a form of motivation. It must have our holiness through purification as its focus, or else it is useless towards our sanctification (meaning, our becoming Christ-like in character). Gentle people are ones who have the best hopes in mind for the others that they are dealing with. The message they convey may bring pain or even some crushing discomfort in realizing who we’ve become, but undeniably, the love we are shown through the manner in which the message is delivered speaks to the sense of hope that person has for us, even if we choose in our pride not to acknowledge it.


Neva Coyle says that “God is a refiner, not an arsonist”. You may have to endure some fire in your life. You may get burned by it. But you will not be consumed by it, if you’ve trusted in Him as your Lord and Savior. Jesus was passionate about everyone and everything around Him, even if He chose at any moment to remain calm in demeanor. He speaks directly to the core of mankind and makes no apologies for His blunt way of relating. His message, though, is anything but spiritual terrorism, even if the world paints it to be because of its exclusivity in regards to salvation. Indeed, one verse in scripture says it all in regards to Jesus’ choice to be sensitively attentive to the pain around Him and overwhelmingly responsive to the desperate need for hope those He came to save were in need of: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).


A terrorist does not weep for you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Gentleness

It’s much harder to ponder gentleness as a fruit than it is a personality trait. If we think of someone as being gentle, what we are saying is that they have a lightness of touch in the way they handle people and things; that is, there’s a slowness, an evidence of care directed towards the item or person that is being reached for, as if to suggest a sensitivity to the reached for’s sense of comfort. Gentleness is an agent of beckoning; it’s about creating an environment where one can unpack what is hindering him or her.

But it’s harder to reconcile gentleness as a fruit – that is, something constant in the life of a Spirit-filled person. Though there are many instances of Jesus approaching people in the calmest of manners, there’s also Jesus knocking over tables in the temple out of anger, calling people “broods of vipers”, and sharply rebuking His disciples…..and we wouldn’t define this sort of thing at all as gentleness. So maybe we should rethink what it means.

Perhaps gentleness has to do as much with internal intent as it does with external response. Perhaps gentleness, instead of just being an agent of beckoning, is the perfect merger of purification and invitation. The act of being externally gentle is to create an inviting relational atmosphere towards the other…...he knows that he is safe here; she knows that she is welcomed. Sometimes that’s all we need in a moment of despair or desperation, and sometimes it’s even enough to bring us to repentance, if we’ve already recognized our sins and know we need to repent and turn from them.

But that isn’t always enough, even though we wish it would be. Sometimes we need to have our tables knocked over in order to grow in holiness. Sometimes we need to hear the abrupt truth in a manner that startles us out of complacency.

What makes this gentle, though, is the unending lengths He takes to let us know beforehand how loved we are; how adored we are; how precious we are; how welcomed and embraced we are. Gentleness always reveals an intention, and His intention for us is always His best. It is the responsibility of the loved, however, to listen and believe.

Indeed, the fruit of His gentleness in me is the persistent calling inside to be used to invite and purify by showing the way to salvation, rooted in an even deeper calling to express His message of love and adoration. I cannot do that without first hearing and heeding to the gentleness He extends to me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Surrendering

I think for Lent I’m just going to give up.

Well, I mean take another step towards surrendering my dreams and embracing God’s plans for my life, and trusting that His will is simply the best, no matter the pain it may bring. He promises peace in our circumstances; what that means is that His presence surrounds our lives, every last detail. I’ve been led over the years to slowly – slowly – release a couple of desired dreams to Him, and I am now seeking the peace each day in living without their fulfillment. If it is in His good plan to someday bring them to the fruition I long for, I know that in between now and then He will refine in me greater contentment and maturity so the dreams will be mere cherries on top of a life delighted in serving Him, instead of the emotional idols I know I would distort them into now. If they are not part of His will for me, though I desire them so, I will release them fully every day that I have to - meaning every day that I feel the emptiness of their absence throbbing against my heart. I grasp hold with all that is in me to the peace of His presence over my dreams, and trust that what He has planned is better than the actualization of the joy I envision these dreams will bring to my life. David longed to build the temple for the Lord. It was not for him to do.


Claiming God’s peace over our dreams is an act of trust, belief, and surrender that He put those dreams in us for a reason…..but peacefully co-existing with His (usually unknown) reasons for not responding to our enormous desire for their fulfillment in our lives also requires trust, belief, and surrender, especially when it comes to reconciling His placement of these desires in us against the haunting emptiness devouring us due to their absence.


But, just perhaps, through His work of purification, He places dreams that He will simply not fulfill for us while we’re on this earth in order to bring to us the painful reality that this fallen earth is not our home. Some dreams are created for our heavenly lives, and He deposits glimpses of them in us now in order to paint a picture of the eternity awaiting us. Yes, the deeper into our faith we travel, the further we should feel that this earth as it is could ever be our true home. It is the peace that derives from His presence that gives us the strength to live on nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just As We Are

As I’m sure is the case with most everyone, there are things about myself I loathe and wish were different. But I’ve noticed over the past few years how this struggle has shifted into a more mature spiritual element; that is, I’ve come to detest the things that interfere with acting Christ-like more than the other things. While I do not have a quick temper, I have a tendency to be judgmental and get annoyed rather easily. I have prayed that God will fashion me into a more grace-filled person in how I relate with others. I also have a penchant for laziness and if I am not completely in love with an idea or a task that’s before me I will usually seek to cut corners. I have come to also loathe this part of me and have prayed for God to make me a hard worker. I’m ashamed in having second thoughts in sharing my faith as a “missionary” in my world while there are missionaries willing to physically give their lives every day in very hostile circumstances. What is wrong with me?

There are the awkward things, like my inability to be charismatic while in a group discussion, my immediate sense of intensity in situations where I feel like I’m the only one who is taking something seriously that should be taken seriously, feeling panicked in a room full of children, loss of bodily control when I start laughing too hard……stuff like this, where I see if I could be just be enhanced a bit I would be of far greater use to God. And not make a spectacle of myself.

And there are also the stupid things, like having very limited culinary skill and creativity; after almost 35 years still not having a handle over styling my hair; getting down to a size 6 (not to mention bouncing between a 6 and a 12 like I’m on a trampoline) and still having monstrous calves. Having far too much emotional wellbeing invested in chocolate.

But having His peace within us also means we have the assurance of His presence over our personalities. He is enough to work through our weaknesses and our downright sinfulness. He knows the things about us that are awkward…they are precious to Him; and He purifies what is stained. He grants us the peace to simply be who we are and trust that He’s working out what needs to be worked out. If that means that in my perfected form I convulse and hyperventilate when in the presence of humor, than I shall celebrate this, too.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Peace

Peace, like joy – and all things of the Spirit – also has its roots in eternity. Its sense of presence within us is directly related to our making the choice to grasp hold of the promise of our desired inclusion in eternity, whether our immediate world around us is falling apart or not. The worldly definition of peace is merely the absence of conflict, but oh, so shallow! In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He is not, not promising a life without conflict or a life free from anything that would serve to stir us in dissension and distress. Instead, we are all but promised a life filled with conflict surrounding us if we are fully abandoned to the pleasure of His will. No, His peace is an eternal assurance.

It is the assurance of His presence; the assurance of His hand guiding the details on the most molecular level, holding in His hands even the balance of the chemicals in the very air we breathe each moment. It is the assurance of a plan written before one of us came to be (Psalm 139); the assurance that God is attentive to every last concern we hold about what we consider precious. It is the assurance that His ways are higher than our ways, the relieving assurance that our universes do not rest on our shoulders; the assurance that just as we are, we are invited to come and believe, come and be re-created, come and truly live. It is the assurance that, though He may not calm the waves that threaten to topple and destroy you, He is in the boat, and there is a reason for this storm. It is the assurance that He will not leave you the way you are now, that in whatever way He’s calling you to serve Him, you will be perfectly equipped to do so. It is also the beautifully twisted assurance that there will be storms……though painful, they provide the opportunity for Him to display the tranquility of a heart surrendered to the peace He promises to one who may so desperately need to see such a heart. Peace is the rich, full assurance that He will be glorified in your life.

Go in peace, the peace He leaves with those who believe in Him; the assurance that every breath that has ever filled your lungs has been laden with the staggering purposes of making His presence known to you and through you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In the Details

I’ve been asked before how it is that I know God is at work in my life, which is sort of like answering the question “how do you know there’s air?” There just is, because I’m breathing. I answer the former the same way: I just know, because I’m living. But I understand the intent of the question. How can we know it is God?

For me, I become aware of countless connections between my thought life, the practical daily details I spend most of my energy on, whatever reading and study I’m doing and the corresponding insights I pick up on and carry with me, and what gets brought up in random conversations with people. I start to notice themes developing, and sometimes it’s even more obvious…..the exact thought I might have entertained a few days ago and sought some direction for in prayer will then be brought up out of nowhere by someone else, or mentioned in a book, etc. These are things too detailed to be mere coincidences (of which, by the way, I believe there are no such things). It is evidence of an attentive, persistent Father who delights in catching our hearts in a moment of realization that He’s been listening.

There’s a person who had a brief but very important impact on me about 10 years ago; she invited me to become more than just a pew-warmer at church and actually start getting involved. I look back and grimace over the awkwardness I so clearly displayed back then (but of course, have no issues with anymore), but she looked past all of that to see someone who might be able to make a difference in some way. Lately, she had been coming to mind in little ways, for no particular reason, even though I haven’t seen her in about seven years. Well, last Thursday, I started a membership at a fitness facility, walked over to the equipment, and there she was! She didn’t recognize me at first but once I said who I was, she lit up and sincerely asked all kinds of questions as to what I’m doing now. We had a special few minutes of catching up together, and I walked away from that encounter with another reminder of the joy I have in the Lord.

As I said yesterday, joy has as its roots our inclusion in eternity. The knowledge that the Lord had been placing thoughts of this woman in my mind just in order to delight me with that wonderful awareness once we actually met up with each other once again……“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Ps 139:6).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Joy: God's Magnet

Years ago, as I was newly blossoming in my faith, I was nurtured by a special group of women. We met bi-weekly, and there was something about the chemistry in this group that allowed us to speak with great honesty and vulnerability. We sought the Lord together and studied His word, as well as praying freely over each other, with hands joined and hearts lifted. We met faithfully for a few years, but one summer, in a matter of weeks, it all dissolved, as something only explained as the Lord’s will. It wasn’t out of anger or conflict or anything other than simply that most of us were being led into a different stage of life of some sort, and the rest of us simply were unable to get the timing right in order to come together. In short, we were being called to move past the incubation period our group had provided for each other. It’s been a few years now since this happened, and while we’ll still see each other now and then on an individual basis, the group that we were just never reformed.

Last week, due to a spontaneous notion by one of these women, we were all able to be together again for a couple of hours; the scheduling just worked. It is rare for a group who hasn’t been regularly interacting for a long time to just be able to pick up where they left off as if no time or season had passed, but we did, and it was precious. When I reflected later that day as to what it was we all experienced together, I realized it was joy.

Joy is strength in its rawest form. Its substance can withstand any devastating attack that might occur. The joy of the Lord serves as a magnet placed inside the heart that causes whatever is being lured out of its rightful place due to the devastation one is enduring to instead be drawn to the magnet as if it were an anchor holding a flailing ship steady in the course of a terrifying storm. We tend to substitute happiness and joy for each other as if they were synonyms, but they are not. Happiness is about life being what we want it to be at any given moment. Joy, the richest of spiritual sweetness, has its roots in eternity. Our disposition in such moments we might describe as “joyful” has to do with whether we are choosing to acknowledge the presence of eternity deposited within us (Eccl 3:11), and embracing that, as followers of Jesus, we have the promise of inclusion in that eternity.

What happened with our group the other day was a lot of laughter and sharing and reminiscing, which were all fun and what we would label as “joyful”, but we had all of those things for a much deeper reason. This group, together, had shared in the unifying victory of having the presence of eternity within us, and because of that, spiritual sweetness again flowed around us as we sat together; the sweetness, the strength – the joy – of knowing that we are bound together for eternity in Christ. For the magnet that holds us each to Him is the same magnet that holds us together spiritually, even though we may each have moved on to new phases of life. That cherished day last week, we embraced our united inclusion in eternity, hearts magnetized by the sheer power that is our joy in the Lord.