Receiving from God
With all the insecurity and uncertainty of the virus pandemic, people are looking everywhere for something solid and dependable. Something stable in a season of storms. God wants to give us everything we need. The simple and profound way we can experience it involves coming to him, meeting him in the mess, and then following the words he gives us. Jerome Daley, who is actively involved with theHeart church family, shares his thoughts below.
By Jerome Daley, Blog Contributor
Last night Kellie and I had my parents over for dinner. Before coming to the table, we were sitting in the living room with a glass of wine and while the ladies were in conversation, Dad turned and remarked to me, “I’ve been praying for joy for you.” That was all he said, and I think I nodded and answered, “Yeah, thanks.” But internally, it launched a cacophony of voices.
Why would he say that? Is he not experiencing me as joyful? Am I experiencing myself as joyful? Am I being judged? I guess I don’t feel super joyful. What’s wrong with me anyway?
While I knew Dad’s heart for me was good, I have to admit that I found the exchange disturbing…and a pang of guilt and uncertainty followed me throughout the evening. I mentioned it to Kellie in passing after my parents left but still wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
This morning I woke up early, made coffee, cleaned up the kitchen, and went downstairs as usual for my quiet time. I like to talk to God out loud, and so I recounted the conversation with Dad, mentioning the flurry of emotions it had set in motion, and basically held the question out to him: “God, am I being joyful these days? I want to be. I know you want joy for me, and I’m not even sure I know how to measure it. What do you think?”
And I waited, listening to the birdsong that echoed in the glimmer of dawn. After a few minutes and ever so gently, I felt an answer well up in me, Well, I’d like to give you more. That was all I needed. It wasn’t an indictment; it was simply the generous response of God’s heart for me. More joy. More of him wanting to be poured into me.
“How, Lord?” I whispered. And I waited.
The words were on my lips before I knew where they came from: Come to Me. I murmured the phrase a couple of times before I connected the dots and pulled up Matthew 11 on my Bible app.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”—Matthew 11:28
Am I weary and burdened? I thought. A series of concerns I’d been carrying crossed my mental screen, and I found myself wondering whether “weary and burdened” wasn’t woven into the very fabric of life. Especially now, I thought, Is there anyone who isn’t weary and burdened in month three of the pandemic?
Alright, God. I’m ready to unburden myself and get a fresh shot of joy.
Go to God
So I let God walk me through the passage. “Come to me.” Yes, God, I’m coming. I’m here. I’m meeting you right at this point. My heart is open to receive. What’s next?
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Okay, God. I want to be hooked up with you. I want to live in partnership with you. When you turn right, I want to turn right. When you pause, I want to pause. I want to stay right in step with you—not pushing ahead, not lagging behind. I thought about the day lying ahead of me: the tasks, the activities, the conversations waiting for me in the hours to come. Teach me, Lord. Keep me in sync with you. Help me to see what you’re seeing and to do what you’re doing.
Receive What is Given
“For I am gentle and humble in heart.” Oh…so that’s the first thing you want to teach me—gentleness and humility. Okay, yes, I want that. And the way it landed at that moment was less about being gentle with people as much as it was about just finding a way of occupying my life that was gentle. And humble. Not trying to force life to be what I want it to be but to receive what is being given in each moment. In fact, that line has become something of a mantra for Kellie and me lately: “Receive what’s given.” It’s harder than it sounds, but it sure contributes to rest.
Connect with the Spirit
Rest is what’s on tap in this passage: “I will give you rest…. You will find rest for your soul.” But how does that connect to joy? All I can say is that it does. At least it has for me today. It’s not like a giddy, amped up sort of joy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) It’s more like a quiet, peaceful sense of well-being. But the part I like best is that it feels really intimate, really connected with the Spirit. And I think that’s why Jesus invites us to come to him, personally.
Experience Real Relationship
With all the insecurity and uncertainty of the virus pandemic, folks are looking everywhere for something solid and dependable. Something stable in a season of storms. Among Christ-followers I’ve seen a lot of videos that understandably point us toward the Bible as that solid place. The authority of scripture. The promises of God. The Bible is obviously loaded with great truth, and this was exactly how God spoke to me this morning. But I think it’s also important to recognize that God and God’s word are not the same things. Why would that matter?
It matters because it’s possible to go to scripture like we would go shopping—looking for a commodity to purchase. The focus is on a solution rather than the Person, the gift rather than the Giver, so the dynamic is transactional rather than relational. God’s generosity wants to overflow to us with every conceivable blessing, but his greatest desire is for intimacy with us. All the great stuff God wants to give us—like joy, for instance—is meant to be rooted and grounded in a passionate love relationship. The place where we talk to God and God talks back. The place where we bring our ragged soul, and he soothes us with his presence. It’s all about coming to him.
In Luke 6, Jesus brings it all together when he says, “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation upon rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”
What this Means for You
What’s the torrent striking your house right now? Is it financial insecurity, distancing fatigue, something else? The answer—simple but profound—can be discovered in coming to God, meeting him in the mess, and then following the words he gives you.
In his book “Shadowlands and Songs of Light,” C.S. Lewis describes Joy like this:
“It dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away. It pricks, then vanishes, leaving a wake of mystery and longing behind it.”—C.S. Lewis
I’m praying for you to experience a mysterious and lasting joy like this, too. Just like my Dad is for me.
Your Voice Matters
Sharing how this time of uncertainty has affected you can be life-changing. It gives you the opportunity to process things while also allowing your church family to learn something profound from your experience. Through your personal story, we all get to see God at work in real and meaningful ways. And don't we all need that kind of hope right now? Understandably sharing your story can feel intimidating, but we want to give voice to your insights—they matter. Whether it's written, captured with photos, or recorded on your iPhone, would you consider contributing to theHeart Blog? Here's how it works:
Email your story idea to email@example.com
Josh will contact you directly to discuss how best your story can be told on theHeart Blog (written, photos, video).