The Bible says "Rejoice always" (Philippians 4:4), and I was doing that for a while and then I forgot. The other day my friend David happened to mention that he needed to get back to rejoicing because he had drifted into discouragement. When he said it I was startled by the idea, as if it were all new.
I had read once in a book by the counselor Jay Adams that our problem is often not that we don't know what to do but that we don't keep doing it long enough. We don't sustain things.
Here are some of the factors that I think make me slip from the fundamentals of abiding in Christ, like rejoicing:
- I start fixing my attention on the stream of experience and ordinariness instead of on Christ.
- I get tyrannized by busyness.
- I allow what's true and what's important to get hazy in my mind.
- I get fixated on little daily annoyances.
- I get trapped in fears of the future or regrets of the past.
- I get bogged down in worldly contentedness, even with wretched things.
- I skip a prayer time here and a prayer time there, and I tell myself it's temporary and reversible.
- I start thinking visible things are more real than invisible.
- I don't fight back against spiritual lethargy or depression. (This is abetted by bad theology about doctrines of grace that encourage complacency by mistaking obedience for works righteousness.)
In this Christian realm of ours, there are think tanks devoted to "transforming culture." There are 10-year vision statements generated by local churches. There are Christian political action groups devoted to the making of godly laws. And with all of that, it is clear to me in this lucid moment that this present moment's choice to trust God enough to be contented and joyful is where it's at, at the end of the day.
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