Sunday, May 14, 2006

When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy

This book by John Piper caught my attention because I am unsatisfied with the level of joy in my life. I do desire God. And for that grace I am grateful. Yet, I long to find Him my chief joy.

Verses like the following suggest there is greater joy to be had than I currently have:
  • Hebrews 10:34 For you … accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
    — Christians accepting the wrongful seizure of their property with joy! Joy because their future inheritance included permanent, unseizable possessions. But that didn’t change the fact that they had lost their property, perhaps all their assets: lands, cash, houses, etc. Why? Because they were Christians. … accepted joyfully!
  • Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy…
    — right after love comes joy!
  • 1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
    — sounds like those gospel songs that make poetic flights the supposed substance of everyday living … “waves of glory o’er me roll” … the only problem is, this inspired Scripture. … joy inexpressible and filled with glory! Where’s that in my life?!
Here are some quotes from the first chapter of Piper's book that have been deepening my hunger for God:

> “the truth and beauty and worthy of God shine best from the lives of saints who are so satisfied in God they can suffer in the cause of love without murmuring.” (15)

> Jonathan Edwards argued with all his intellectual might in 1729 that “Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites.” [Imagine wondering if your appetite for God was getting a little out of hand!?] Edwards continues

“[We ought] to be endeavoring by all possible ways to inflame our desires and to obtain more spiritual pleasures. … Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value. … [Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement. … there is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting. (19)

O God, grant me unbounded appetite for You and grace to lay myself in the way of soul allurement to You.

6 comments:

Megan said...

Nice blog. You'd probably hate mine. But if you are ever interested in a little religious debate, check it out.

Philip Brown said...

Hi, Megan,
Thanks. Checked yours out today 5/17/06.
Sounds like you're engaging the real issues: choice, predestination, fate.
Here's what Jesus said, and might say again were He to respond to your blog.

+ "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
+ "The person who believes in me, shall have eternal life."
+ "This is what eternal life is: to know God and Jesus, the Messiah, whom He sent."
+ "Come to me, everyone who is weary and burdened down, and I will give you rest."
+ "If anyone wants to follow me, they must be willing to deny themselves, crucify their own desires, and choose to follow me."
+ "Anyone who comes to me, I would never reject."

The invitation still stands.

Jon Earls said...

Dr. Brown,

I enjoy reading your blog and from your website. I am also looking forward to reading "When I don't desire God." I have ordered it but it has not arrived yet. His messages that I have listened to on this subject have been good.

I was curious what your opinion was on Piper's book "Desiring God." I have read most of it, but then it got set aside for awhile and so I am actually starting to reread it from the beginning.

I'm just wondering what someone from our persuasion, who is much smarter than me, thinks about it. :)

God Bless!

Philip Brown said...

Hi, Jon,

I would rank Desiring God along with three other books that have most profoundly affected my spiritual life: Tozer's Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy, and J. I. Packer's Knowing God.

Once I was able to see that Piper's Calvinism is really incidental to his understanding of what it means to desire and delight in God, I was able to immerse my soul in the truth he presents.

Regarding Calvinism and a passion for God -- I have found that John Wesley was saying in almost identical language the same things Jonathan Edwards and other Reformed writers were saying. Perhaps I'll blog on this sometime.

Blessings,
Philip

~Heather~ said...

This is Phillip D. In regard to 1 Peter 1:8 "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory." I have often wondered how to reconcile this abounding joy (which Wesley believed was wrought by perfect love and I agree) with 1 Pet. 1:6 "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:" These "manifold temptations" may also (I believe) be interpreted "a lot of adversity." Does this mean that it is normal to not feel like running through a troop and jumping over a wall? But spoiling of goods is manifold temptations, and yet God's grace gave them abundant joy. So should I look for more joy in my manifold temptations or expect heaviness, or is it something that can co-exist? Wondering. Any thoughts are appreciated, Phillip Dickinson under my wife's blogger name

Philllip Dickinson said...

One more thing, I failed to mention that I couldn't agree more with this blog on great joy and that it is Biblical. But again I do want to throw some more thoughts out. What about Job, a perfect man, in the depths of despair? Also I have been thinking recently that when I feel great for too long, personally there is the temptation for me to start getting lax. But when I hit bottom emotionally, it makes me flee to God. I like to think that God in His mercy allows me to feel down to cling to Him all the more. But then again, am I living below what God's grace has for me? His grace can keep me just as well in great joy as well as in less joy.