Joy in the Hope of Heaven
It had been a long homeschooling day. 4:00 hit and I escaped to the front porch for a moment of silence and space. I sometimes wonder if introverts who homeschool have a harder time than extroverts. One is hard-pressed for a space of silence or contemplation. And although Meyers Briggs technically identifies me as an extrovert (I do love people), I beg to differ when I find that it's the quiet and time alone that fuels my spirit.
It was an "ordinary," long day, and I was tired. I decided to run to the local book store for a recharge. While there, I happened upon Emily P. Freeman's book, Simply Tuesday. Reading the introduction, I felt like it had been written just for me on this day, (other than the fact the day itself was actually a Thursday, not Tuesday).
An ordinary Thursday. A day of the same old, same old. Nothing unusual, nothing exciting. We began school around the same time we usually do, and spent some key moments outside riding bikes. I made a bacon sandwich for Brielle and yogurt parfaits for the other two pixies. Nothing too spectacular about any of that.
But then these words from Freeman stared at me upon the page:
"I'm paying attention to the small ways that Jesus--and his kingdom--shows up in the daily ordinary, in the actual places where I live. When I think of where to find 'the kingdom of God in our midst,' Tuesday comes to mind. This is the day of the week housing the regular, the ordinary, the plain, and the small."
And I felt my world expand rather than shrink.
If God can meet me in the simplest and most ordinary of places and spaces, then I can find the strength to carry on no matter how weary I may be.
Last week I shared that if we are ever going to discover joy, a kind of joy that produces strength, it needs to find it's source in God Himself. He must be our deepest joy. We need to find joy in the hope of heaven. We must be kingdom people.
Kingdom people find God in the ordinary. They embrace each day as a holy day, set apart, rich with wonder and anticipation. Kingdom people know the fabric that makes up their ordinary lives is weaving a tapestry that is eternal in nature. They know that where their treasure is, there their heart will follow.
They fix their eyes on things above, and find their hope further up, and further in.
When we seek hard after the kingdom of God, something transformative takes place. We find ourselves longing for the hope of heaven. The gloss and glitter of earth dims in light of the brilliance beyond.
And this changes the course of our lives.
The Works of Our Lives
The Puritan pastor Richard Baxter encouraged believers to find their strength from spiritual joy not from natural supplies. He prayed, "May the Living God, who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving Him, and delighting in Him, may be the work of our lives."
How can we make loving Him the work of our lives?
By delighting in Him. When we fix our mind on things above, reaching for the hope of heaven, it makes the heavy burdens, light, the crooked roads, straight. Before we know it we are so caught up in awe of the Eternal One that the work of our lives is joy. And we find ourselves with a strength that is other-worldly.
J. I. Packer described this dynamic in Baxter's life:
"The hope of heaven brought him joy, and joy brought him strength, and so, like John Calvin before him and George Whitefield after him and, it would seem, like the apostle Paul himself...he was astoundingly enabled to labor on, accomplishing more than would ever have seemed possible in a single lifetime."
The hope of heaven can empower us to accomplish more than we dreamed possible, more than would have seemed able in a single lifetime.
As our dear friend, Lacey Sturm, sings in "Impossible":
Might we be the wonder? Might we soar and run on the wings of eagles? Because the kingdom is within us. He is within us. And when we discover joy in the hope of heaven we get to live the impossible.
Another ordinary day of living the impossible.
Press play to listen to "Impossible" by Lacey Sturm