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Faithful presence, Fullness of Joy

“You will show me the paths of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV)

A few months ago I wrote about how I’d rather be playing a particular video game than writing the Conversing with God devotional. That story looks like it’s going to end like this: The game is one of those where you have to pay an annual membership to have access to the whole (admittedly massive) game, which I was more than happy to invest in a year ago because my sons were enjoying it so much. Time has passed, the interests of youth have waned and my sons are on to games they now enjoy more. I’m the only one still enjoying it. Time to bury it, on the one hand, because I can’t justify the expense of another year’s membership if I’m the only one who would use it, and on the other hand, because it consumes an awful lot of brain space. For better or for worse, I got about halfway through the game and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, the thing I know as a gamer is that there’s always a better game. There’s always one with more streamlined rules or more engaging player interaction or better art or higher replayability or an easier learning curve or whatever. What was, for a time, the best game ever, quickly gets replaced by something new. And isn’t this what all of life is like apart from God? You never actually have fulfillment, because you know there will eventually be something more appealing that you need to make sure you grab hold of, so you end up with this constant stress, ready to pounce on the next best thing because you’re afraid to miss it.

But God is faithful, and He makes a lot of promises about how good and fulfilling He is. Who He was in Psalms when David writes that fullness of joy is in His presence, is who He still is today. Who He was when Paul wrote of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ, even in His sufferings, is who Jesus remains even now. He keeps His word. Nothing better will ever come along. There is no higher replayability than plumbing the unchanging, yet limitless, depths of the revealed mystery of who Jesus is, yet these promises from God are some of the hardest for me to believe.

Thankfully, God has a way of reminding me of His goodness. Whether it’s finding mercy in surprising places in scripture or grappling with the profound mystery of God’s sovereign plan or seeing the power of the Spirit at work in the life of a new believer or receiving grace myself through my own relationships, He always lets me know that He hasn’t changed and He won’t be out-shined. He speaks tenderly to me in the wilderness when I wander a bit and gently lures me back because He is faithful even when I am not. And He reminds me that the membership fee for all this goodness was already paid on the cross, and it lasts forever. No renewal needed.

God’s faithfulness, His steadfastness, stand in stark contrast to the fleeting pleasures of this world. Nothing this world offers lasts, but our God lives forever, and His faithfulness endures through all generations. He will never be outdone or bested, and He calls us friends. Let’s press into His heart and catch a fresh glimpse of how wonderful our Lover is, and let that glimpse cleave us ever closer to His heart.

Warmly in Christ, Fred Swartz

For Reflection: “Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish…” (Philippians 3:8, NKJV)

  1. What has been the hardest thing for you to surrender to God?

  2. How has Jesus been faithful to show himself far greater than that thing that seemed so good?

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