This morning during my quiet time I read 1 Thessalonians 5 . . . verse 16 says rejoice always. Isn’t it amazing that our God desires us to rejoice always? How much that declaration says about His heart for us. How much it says about the life He desires for us.
The other day, my husband and I saw a child jumping around, smiling, and having a great time for no apparent reason. Just enjoying life and feeling good to be alive. Completely in the moment, not trapped in the past or concerned about the future. She was one happy kid.
My husband said, “That is what it is like to be in the spirit.” And it is so true. Children don’t worry about what others think, they aren’t judgmental, they accept others’ differences, they openly love, they are affectionate, full of happiness, trust, don’t worry, and don’t carry their past around like a ton of bricks.
God calls us to be children in His arms, trusting, resting, in the moment, full of joy, and embraced in His love. This is the life He calls us to – what a God, what a gift. Yet, we so often exchange the life and freedom He gives by getting distracted trying to do His job – fixing ourselves, fixing others, trying to control our future, healing ourselves, proving our worthiness, providing and so on.
God came to simplify our lives and give us abundant life. If we truly believe and follow Him then our lives would be simplified hundred-fold and entail those things we truly desire.
God said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” All these things are the things that pertain to life. The things this world chases after we no longer have to because God is providing them for us. He takes care of us so we can focus on abiding with Him as His bride so that His power and glory may be shown through our lives.
A couple of years ago, I started to take this verse to heart. I worked at not working and instead at seeking and abiding. Though I still have a long way to go to be at a child-like status, I’ve let go of a lot in my life and I find I’m slowly moving to a life of trust and dependence. As a result, the changes in my life and true progress in me has been beyond what I thought possible. Once I trusted Him, then His work started to abound in me and in my life. I am fully convinced of the truth of this verse.
Most of us try to make it more complicated most of the time. We are busier than ever trying to live up to the extreme expectations this world places on us to be better, stronger and smarter. God says stop, I’ll take care of all that, just seek and abide. It isn’t giving up life; it is gaining it in abundance with freedom, rest and joy.
True, there are times we are brokenhearted like seeing the vastness of deception and death (physical and spiritual). And these heavy emotions bring us to the feet of God to cry out to Him from the depth of our souls. But He is the one to redeem, heal, and deliver. It isn’t about our strength and power but His. And His love and faithfulness infuses hope into all things. Because of Him and who He is to us we can rejoice always.
When you look at all His promises to us, there isn’t an area of our lives they don’t cover and our part in obtaining these promises is to trust and believe. Believe is our work John 6:29. And in a world that contradicts the ways of God it is indeed work. Our efforts and works have overtaken many of our beliefs. But the Christian faith is established on grace and God’s work in our lives – not ours. It is His performance, not ours.
In addition, becoming a child not only benefits our lives, but others. When we are a child, then He can truly “use” us. Because His love, power and truth move through us into the lives of others and we stop trying to force it by living out a weak copy-cat instead of the real deal. When we abide, in time His presence becomes a natural outward flow from our lives to the lives of others.
A child-like life comes from a new heart born of His Spirit. Our actions are the fruit of living with a new heart. This heart doesn’t come instantly. It starts small. It is cultivated over time as we grow in grace, knowledge and trust. If we trust Him, He will mold a child-like nature in us. He does it all. His Word is full of promises of what He will do for us. May we work to believe in them, live out the freedom they bring, and rejoice always.