13 | Lean On His Joy
We're over half way through Advent!! And what better reason to be joyful than resting in the knowledge that we can put our trust completely in our Saviour, knowing that he will make our paths straight.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take” - Proverbs 3:5-6
This time of Christmas can often prompt reflection, uncertainty and anticipation about the New Year. Maybe your first term at college or university wasn’t what you expected, or you’ve survived the first few months of a job you’re not sure about and are wondering how long you ‘should’ stick it out for. Maybe you’re preparing to go home to friends you haven’t seen in a while or are wondering how to respond to a difficult family situation.
These verses from Proverbs are often quoted from well-meaning friends to bring comfort in times of uncertainty (and as someone who avoids decision-making, I find the promise of clear direction very appealing!).
But there’s a precursor to the promise, an implied question: do you trust God?
Do we really trust Him completely, with our whole lives? Do we trust that He has good plans for us, that He wants the best for us like the most loving father imaginable?
“Trust is established when words and deeds are congruent” (William M. Boast) and American pastor Rick Warren writes that, ‘from this standpoint, God is THE most trustworthy being I can establish a relationship with. He always says what He means and means what He says. He has never, ever, promised something and then not done it. He has never failed. He is completely flawless and therefore, completely trustworthy”
This kind of trust doesn’t leave room for fear and doubt, so it frees us up to really experience joy!
As explored earlier in this series, joy is more than a happy feeling that stems from knowing God is infallible and wants to be with us forever. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), something that grows as we consult God about things, when we lay down our rights and perceived entitlements and earnestly search for God’s perspective on our situations.
These verses also suggest that we really can know what God wants for our lives, if we acknowledge that we cannot ‘depend on our own understanding’. For me, this ‘understanding’ falls into two different categories. The first area is where we are all too aware that our understanding is limited. When our ‘normal’ is rocked and we experience huge change, challenges to our values and beliefs, unexpected suffering or rejection. In these circumstances, do we assume that we’ve got it all wrong, or even that God has? Or will we hold on to the things our reason has once accepted in spite of our changing moods? (C. S. Lewis). This is not to undermine education or to suggest that we shouldn’t keep expanding our knowledge, but rather to emphasise that God’s Spirit is with us precisely so that we may have greater understanding.
The other area is in the mundane, daily routines of life where we’re pretty sure we have good grasp on what’s going on. Where each day seems a pattern of a day before, undertaking tasks we’ve been taught to do, with relationships we’re comfortable with, going through the motions. In these places where we’ve established ‘understanding’, are we still willing to keep asking God for greater vision for what could happen?
A similar promise of direction and wisdom is found in Psalm 37, where verse 23 says
‘The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives’.
Together with Proverbs 3, these verses illustrate that not only does acknowledging God in everything we do gives us access to His wisdom, but that we experience joy as we understand the joy and delight He feels about us!
Susie lives in Birmingham where she is training to be a social worker. She loves food, dance, her friends, work and church, and believes Birmingham to be seriously underrated.