Have you ever bought and begun to read a book that came highly recommended and only made it through the first few chapters even though the subject was engaging and the writing well crafted. I would suspect that we all have at one time or another. And I am equally sure that there are many reasons for not finishing a book beginning with what I believe is perhaps the most frequent (in my case at least): it is just not your time to be reading that particular book.
And once that book goes back on the bookshelf the chances of it ever being pulled out again are slim or next-to-none.
Unless of course you are meant to read that particular book.
Such is the case with an old John Piper book entitled “Desiring God” which I picked up during my John Eldridge period about three years or so ago. Eldridge (Wild At Heart, etc.) was a Piper fan and chopped off a little piece of the territory that Piper and some others opened up and did his thing with it and was quite inspiring and subsequently successful with it. I dropped off that bandwagon at some point and haven’t looked back. Even though his stuff got kind of mass-market to me, it was Eldridge who introduced me to the Westminster Catechism and that famous first verse which states: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
However, I have recently begun to be led back to Piper in a most interesting way. I even picked up the book again and was amazed at how much clearer his writing had become to me. Whether I read the whole thing this time through is another story. Suffice it to say I have been warmed and well filled with what I have tasted so far.
I will say I am further amazed at how God’s timing in our lives is impeccable. His way is so consistent and constant and seemingly flexible to where we are headed at any given moment. As a master craftsman, He is always at work to add whatever piece we need to gain insight and revelation at just the right time. He is all about us being built into a wonderful vessel to carry His presence into the world—yet at the same time aware (and us as well) that we are earthen and prone to cracks and leaks. I have been a leaky vessel myself in times past and have let things come out of my mouth that should have been washed away in the lake of forgiveness many times over.
I have missed the mark many times over the years—first and foremost in my serving an institution rather than the Body of Christ and secondly in my representation of the Father to my children and others.
However, a new page has been turned and I am learning to trust in that still small voice and find the adventure He has intended for me to be the one of the most exciting things that has even been brought my way.
It is indeed, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” that has captured my attention during the past few weeks. And further, if the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us, then we of all people should be the happiest and most fulfilled.
Piper’s take on the Christian life can be summed up in this statement:
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Through good times and bad—through trials and tribulations—the apostle Paul said that he had learned to be content. He was satisfied with God and God was glorified in him.
With this awareness—Christ in us—we can move through our lives with a much different perspective on the events that make up our day. We no longer have to go anywhere to find Him—as He lives within us. Church is not a place where we show up on Sunday to meet Him—but rather us being part of a group of people who are “in Christ”. A congregational meeting on Sunday is meant to be a part of the whole, not the total expression of what it means to be a Christian.
But enough about that—I would much rather talk about the journey and the sense of purpose and destiny that we can feel as we become aware of abiding in Him and Him abiding in us. When we begin to think like this we can start to see how the pieces fit together and even begin to get a hold of what a sense of humor our Heavenly Father has. He really does take delight in us—even as we stumble and fall and sometimes run, jump and fly through this world we live in. That knowledge, in and of itself, can be mind blowing and revelatory—not to mention the joy in the journey that is produced by living in a much more elastic expression of Christianity.
And as I recently read in a book simply called “Jake’s Story”, we don’t quit sinning by walking away from it—we quit sinning as we walk toward Christ. As we fill ourselves with His reality, that other reality of sin’s distraction and subsequent awareness becomes less and less.
Living in the “New Testament” is about relationship and not about a bunch of rules and regulations that we try in vain to use as our standard of whether we have achieved “holiness”.
And having found this to be true thus far, I can tell you that it is much more fun to fly with the eagles that it is to be on the ground with the chickens scratching around for a little cracked corn.
Enjoy your ride and be on the lookout for the unexpected.