Apr 15

Joy

Joy

 

 You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips.

For you meet him with rich blessings; you set a crown of fine gold on his head.

He asked you for life; you gave it to him — length of days forever and ever.

His glory is great through your help; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.

You bestow on him blessings forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

For [he] trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.                                                                 Psalm 21:2-7 NRSV

 

I am thinking today of one of the two most formative people in my life, one who has recently passed from this life, and of some of the things he taught me. Of all the hundreds of things, it is difficult to isolate one, but at this moment at least, I do think I can. He taught me that living God’s life is not one of unremitting effort, but one of joy. It is not meant to be an attempt to climb up a slippery slope to get to God. Rather it is to walk through a succession of doors into ever wider vistas. Holiness is not a series of impossible demands, but an incredible invitation into all we were ever meant to be.

Is effort involved? Of course, nothing worth doing is ever easy. But it is not a grim, teeth-gritting slog. It is the wondering “yes” when he tells you to raise your sails in a dead calm. It is the daring “yes” when you are marooned on a cliff and he shows you that tiny crack in the cliff above your head that is just big enough for you to jam your fingers into and pull yourself up. It is the reluctant “yes” when he says “That way there  be dragons.” It is to know that if at some point you say “no,” he is not done with you, but will open up another way. It is to live in wondering joy that in the arms of God you have found yourself. It is to live life as an expression of joy and gratitude and wonder. For holiness is nothing other than to be set free in a wholesome awe of God, a sincere love of God and others, and a glad self-forgetfulness.

 

3 comments

    • Laura Lea on April 16, 2017 at 12:05 am
    • Reply

    What a wonderful and refreshing perspective on holiness! I appreciate your final words, “a glad self-forgetfulness.” That is a challenge but there is freedom in setting aside self. But it tends to be a daily challenge and surrender. Thanks for these words and am thrilled I found this page tonight. I needed it.

    • Emily Wood Coleman on April 18, 2017 at 11:26 am
    • Reply

    Dr. Oswalt, thank you for these words which uplift and challenge me. I was unable to attend Dr. Kinlaw’s memorial service but was able to watch it last night. Your heartfelt comments were so appreciated. Like so many my life was changed and enriched by knowing him and I am so grateful the Lord allowed our paths to cross. I don’t think I ever adequately thanked him (or thanked you) for the wealth you both gave me. What a privilege I enjoyed as a student to soak up your teaching and that of so many other giants of the faith. I have been given such a heritage of faith and I am thankful. I was a student at Asbury graduating in the class of 1984 and followed a rich family tradition of Asburians, married one and one of our sons graduated in 2009. You have been and are a blessing in my life and I hope you are aware of how the Lord has used you to build His kingdom.

    • Janet Hoover on July 13, 2017 at 6:14 am
    • Reply

    I needed this devotional today! As others have commented, my life has also been changed because of the influence of Dr. Kinlaw’ teaching and of your own teaching. I’m so thankful for those God has placed on my path to teach and encourage. These words are some that I will continue to come back to. Thank you for sharing what God has given you.

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