A Higher Joy

Psalms 16:11 (ESV) 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

There is likely no one more excited than me about the University of Georgia’s national championship in football. What an exciting sports experience! It was one crazy scene at Casa de Jolly as Ringo got the pick-six that sealed the win. Even Jennifer was jumping up and down. It was pandemonium. 

Today, it’s still amazing, and the enjoyment of the win, the sports talk radio, the articles, and the texts with my sons and friends are fun. And yet there is the little hollow place I can feel in my soul that I knew would be there, and I need to use that for ultimate joy. Let me explain. 

I’ve been around the block with myself and enjoyment of good things enough to know what is ultimately fulfilling and what is amazing and yet falls just short of full joy. Some who win championships talk about feeling empty after great achievements. How is that, and why?

This is not intended to be some Jesus juke to make anyone, including myself, feel bad for enjoying good things like sports and particularly winning them. No. This is simply a plea to myself and folks like me to enjoy those good things and NOT expect them to fill up what only God can fill up and lean into God for full joy, and through him enjoy the good gifts of created order and life. 

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 helps me to take Psalm 16:11 and put it into practice. 

That Psalm tells me that it is God alone who makes know the path of life, and this path leads to him where there is full joy and eternal pleasures. 

Joys in life are there to enjoy and serve as a reminder of the source of those little joys, namely God. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father, James 1:17 reminds us, and the experience of good gifts like that should cause us to look up and go to the source not merely the gift from the source. 

Whatever I take joy in that his good, I am to do it to the glory of God and when I do that, I’m using the gift God gives me as a ramp to the source of joy, God, and there find full joy. 

Make sense? Don’t let the gift and the joy it brings terminate on itself or that will create an empty place. Use the gift that brings joy as a divine reminder to look up and revel in the joy that fills and gives eternal pleasure in God alone. 

What I’ve found when I do this is that joy is full and pleasure is sweet and fellowship with God is glorious. 

A beautiful reality that makes this even better is that when there don’t seem to be joys and the season is dry and cold, the Giver and source of full joy is still there and waiting for me to call out and come to him and there find mercy and grace and help and full joy in spite of a lack of “ramps” up to him. 

So, look to Jesus who is God, and find a joy that is full and lasting. 

Finally, when we look up and take delight in God, we glorify God. What says God is glorious more than one of his people finding their full joy in him? Nothing. 

Our joy. God’s glory. One end. All this from enjoying the good things he allows us to enjoy and looking to him for its complete and full expression. 

Enjoy the game. Enjoy the win. Enjoy the success. Enjoy the people. Look up to Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, and there find joy and pleasure in him. 

Glory to God!

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