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Take joy from the reflection of a long obedience

I have always enjoyed hope. Not in the deep spiritual sense, as in awaiting the great reunion with our Lord in heaven.  Something closer to a young boy shaking the boxes under the Christmas tree in early December.  Every fiber of his being quivering in anticipation, awaiting the great joy wrapped in red ribbons and shiny green bows.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt a flutter of excitement over Christmas.  But other hopes still appear.  Often in the form of climbing.


Summiting Mt. Rainier loomed as a goal since I first moved to Seattle and lived beneath its icy slopes.  How anyone can live in Washington and not long to stand atop it’s roof simply baffles me.  The summer after my freshman year of college, the opportunity finally arose. I can recall few moments that brought such eagerness upon my emotions.  July finally arrived and we hiked and climbed for endless hours, slogging up mind numbing step after step.  The frozen hours of predawn darkness kept warm by the promise of victory. 


We did not summit.  Less than 500 hundred feet below the top, we turned around.  The wind blew with such ferocity, we struggled to merely stand, let alone climb.  My climbing partner, one of those perennially happy types, accepted our failure without complaint.  I was furious.  Two weeks passed and I tried again.  This time, the Lord smiled upon our silly ambitions and we summited under blue and flawless skies.  Intense joy, laced with adrenaline and filled with awe delighted our souls.  We descended and drove home.  Several days passed and it was gone.  Occasionally, brief moments of proud recollection would return, but they were rare.


I believe another type of joy exists.  A joy God has placed before us but we so rarely drink.  The deep satisfaction from reflecting upon a long obedience.  Pausing to notice the great redemption Jesus has wrought in our lives, the movement from sinner to saint so lost in the narrow vision of the moment.  Our friends often see the changes before we do.  A calm response to a situation that used to bring rage.   A steady obedience where flippancy once ruled.


Perhaps it is a hyper sense of grace which robs us of this experience.  We are taught, and rightly so, to snuff out any hint of credit for the good accomplished in our lives.  But we are reckless in our cleaning.  Casting our net too wide, we ensnare the victories achieved through His grace.  


Our Father does not ask us to forget how we have changed, he simply asks us to give Him the credit.  The most profound changes in my life did not happen overnight.  Not in a week, month or even a year.  They are slow and meandering, indiscernible in the moment. Without a periodic glance back over the long view, these changes would be lost.  The growth occurs regardless, but how tragic to not witness the profound and constant work of the Holy Spirit.


The joy remembered from past victories provides the sustenance that our hope for the future must feed upon.  God asked the Israelites to anchor their hope in the desert upon the recollections of His providence in the past.  Jesus takes it a step further and casts this request upon our entire life. 


Let us do the same and take joy in the grace already come.


Comment from Heather
Time September 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm

How refreshing! So often we as Christians expect ourselves to change overnight and tend to feel frusterated when it doesn’t happen. I so agree, believe and have experienced that a true heart change takes time. It makes me think of that well known verse in Romans 12:2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

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