Monday, July 14, 2008

Finding enjoyment

Going through my feed reader this morning, I came across this gem from Randy Alcorn. Please take the time to read his post on "Creator and Culture, and Anticipating a Redeemed Earth."

{If you haven't clicked on the link above, nothing below this point will make sense to really, go read his post!}

I've been silent on my blog for a couple of weeks now, but I've been seriously grappling with the issue his entire post is on. Because of it, I've been slightly depressed. I haven't known what to say, much less how to say what I've been feeling. This post came at the right time, and I feel that a burden has been gently lifted. I'll repost some quotes from Alcorn's blog that really spoke to me:

"To say “This world is not your home” to a person who’s fully alive and alert to the wonders of the world is like throwing a bucket of water on kindling’s blaze. We should fan the flames of that blaze to help it spread, not seek to put it out.

Otherwise, we malign our God-given instinct to love the earthly home God made for us. And we reduce “spirituality” into a denial of art, culture, science, sports, education, and all else human. When we do this, we set ourselves up for hypocrisy—for we may pretend to disdain the world while sitting in church, but when we get in the car we turn on our favorite music and head home to barbecue with friends, watch a ball game, play golf, ride bikes, work in the garden, or curl up savoring a cup of coffee and a good book.

We do these things not because we are sinners but because we are people. We will still be people when we die and go to Heaven. This isn’t a disappointing reality—it’s God’s plan. He made us as we are—except the sin part, which has nothing to do with friends, eating, sports, gardening, or reading."

"Do you think God is pleased when we enjoy a good meal, a football game, laughter with friends, a cozy fire, or a good book? Your answer to that question not ­only demonstrates your view of God but also indicates the degree to which you are able to enjoy life. And it will determine how much you will look forward to the resurrection and what the Bible calls the New Earth."

"Failure to ­under­stand the goodness of God’s creation has blinded countless people from seeing Heaven as a place of great pleasure and enjoyment. Instead, they think that for Heaven to be “spiritual,” it must somehow be drab, unappealing, and bereft of “earthly” things, which they consider unspiritual."

For whatever reasons lately, I've had a very hard time with enjoying "earthly" things guilt-free. I'll use clothes for an example. I rarely buy new clothes for myself due to cost, but also because I feel guilty for even desiring something new. I get very frustrated with the battle that wages in my mind over things like this. It goes back and forth between issues of contentment, self-deprivation, and shame. Is it that wrong to like clothes? Does anyone else ever go through this too?

The part of Randy's post that gets me crying though is when he writes, "God is not up in Heaven frowning at us and saying, “Stop it—you should find joy ­only in me.” But honestly, this is exactly how I've been interpreting things. When I read that line the first time, it almost seemed blasphemous to me. But Randy continues, "This would be as foreign to our heavenly Father’s nature as it would be to mine as an earthly father if I gave my daughters a Christmas gift and then pouted because they enjoyed it too much. No, I gave the gift to bring joy to them and to me. I am delighted when they enjoy the gifts I’ve given them. If they ­didn’t, I’d be disappointed. Their pleasure in my gift to them draws them closer to me."

So the link here is being closer to God in appreciation and recognition for those good things which He has blessed our lives with. If we're not careful, those things can become idols in our lives.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The past few weeks my spirit has struggled with an unnatural yoke and carried a burden it was not intended to bear. All are invited to place struggles, heartache, shame, guilt, and legalism at the foot of His cross. It's time that I make another trip back...


Felicity said...

Hi Megan
I found your blog through Randy Alcorn's blog, I can relate to his post and yours too! I too struggle with 'enjoying' things, I know I need to remember that God wants us to enjoy what He has given us and the following verses in 1 Timothy tell us to that we also need to be willing to share. This helped my perspective, we can enjoy what God has given us, but if we are not willing to share those things and use them for His glory, then that's when we should be feeling guilty?! Thanks for your comment and for your blog.
Love Felicity

tara said...

Megan, I read your comment on Randy's blog. Those are my thoughts and words exactly! I recently returned from a mission trip in a third world country and have been struggling with this issue since I got back.

Megan at My Heart, My Home said...

Good point about needing to share our blessings with others. So true! God's goodness is easily multiplied when we share His blessings to others in our lives. Thanks for stopping by!

I would love to go on an overseas mission trip someday. My missions dream would be to go to India and minister there. How was your trip, where did you go? Why do you think Christians struggle with the issue of enjoying things? I wonder if Satan uses guilt to diminish the overall blessing of whatever it is. Clearly Satan's goal is to distract us and lessen our praise towards God. I think there is a larger picture just below the surface as to why Christians struggle with this... Thanks for stopping by!