The Ever Increasing Joy

Anxiety. The red thread in that bundle of thoughts. Worry. Fear. Doubt. Shame. Guilt. All of these things have no home in the life of a Christ follower and yet, I find myself burrowing deep into them and wallowing. I get to the end of them and start over again. Anxiety, worry, fear, doubt, shame, guilt. All the things I did wrong. All the things I need to fix. All the things I need to work on. All the things someone else has done better, is more talented at, qualified in. All the things to yet come. All the things I struggle with. All the old demons that haunt me at my most vulnerable.

I feel angst at so many things – things I know don’t actually matter in light of eternity. I know I need to lift my gaze upward. “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1). And Christ is in it all – by him and in him all things were made. He is before all things and in him all things hold together– he reigns supreme. It’s a wonder and a shame that I should look anywhere else for validity and joy and reconciliation.

No matter what brilliant imagery I use I cannot paint a vast enough picture to capture the stupefying phenomenon of Christ in creation. My description remains a shadow of a dull drop of understanding. I cannot begin to comprehend before time began and after it ends; He who was, and is, and is to come. A simple storm, a wave, a raw encounter with nature reduces me to rubble of awe and trembling. How much more then, the forming of everything out of nothing, light from dark, the sun and the moon and the stars!

He is Light, he is Life, he is Ruler, and Judge, and Bridegroom. Christ; the image of the invisible God. Christ; flesh, known, yet fully God; unsearchable. These earthly, foolish things I spend so much time taking out and agonizing over don’t define me or give me worth.

My worth comes from Christ and Christ alone and how he reconciled me to himself through his sinless life and death on the cross and resurrection from the grave when I had nothing to give, nothing by which to earn it.

I don’t deserve relationship with him but he desired me anyway. He sought after me so intensely that he gave up everything to make a way to bring me to himself. I can’t even fathom that kind of love. His pursuit of me is what I’ve always longed for in belonging; being fully known and truly, unconditionally accepted and loved. And now that this fragile life of human experiences has hurt and scarred me and left me skittish, I am overwhelmed and often disbelieving of his mercy and intense, unrelenting desire for me – in spite of my infidelity and imperfection. I can never love him enough in return or hold it together on my own.

And the infinite and soul-wrecking beauty is that he is enough for all of that and more. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.

When I feel myself inexorably drawn off the track into the wilds of shame and despair and reciting all the reasons I’m unlovable, the simplicity of the raw Gospel gives me such hope and comfort – like a warm fire spreading through my cold, aching, dying bones.

God has made us alive together with Christ, by grace.

And if I set my mind on nothing else, it is this Christ and “the ever increasing joy in making much of him forever” (John Piper).

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:38-39)





Response to Colossians 1:15-23

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