Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lookin' for Pure Joy?

I'm thinking deep thoughts this afternoon. It all started when I heard Abby run through the house yelling, "Lydia! Come see this! Hurry up or you'll miss it!" Well, the "it" was a blimp! But, this got me thinking about how our most exciting moments are actually bittersweet if we don't have someone to share them with. And, the closer we are to that person, the more thrilling it is to share an exciting or emotional moment with them.
Like, if Lydia had missed out on that blimp sighting, this thrilling moment would have soured in Abby's mind and would have given her some sadness instead of pure joy. So, really, it's not the amazing experiences in life that fulfill us -- it's the relationships. And, above all, when we see the hand of God in those experiences, we find our greatest fulfillment -- in an intimate bonding moment with Him! Another aspect of what I'm saying is this -- If people are in conflict, whether it's with another person, with themselves, or with their Maker, they're bound to have a hard time enjoying any of the beauty or thrills that this world has to offer. I wonder how many conflicted people sit beneath an expensive, breath-taking fireworks display and feel no joy because they're so emotionally/relationally/spiritually paralyzed. I think the key to true joy is forgiveness -- first, accepting the forgiveness that is freely offered to us, made possible by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross -- God in the flesh, giving his life as a ransom for our sin....and then, in that freedom from our own guilt, being able to extend forgiveness to others -- even to the most unforgivable. I've seen this truth play out in my own life and in the lives of many others who know Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior. When I lose sight of what Christ has done for me, I start to get spiteful, angry, and depressed -- sometimes even for no apparent reason. But when I focus on His amazing grace and mercy, I've been able to forgive some pretty heinous things because of the fact that I've been forgiven. And even in the darkest times, I have been surprised by joy and peace in my heart. I wouldn't trade this life for anything.

Local Missions or Foreign Missions???

I read this article yesterday and it got me thinking. Should we be encouraging people to give more of their time and money to foreign missions or to local missions? If you look no further than the title of that article, you would assume that the author is strictly promoting local missions, to the exclusion of foreign missions. However, toward the end of the article, the author does seem to advocate a balance between the two, and I'm glad for that. It seems like, in many areas of life, when people promote one side or another, the best solution is often to pursue BOTH, not either/or. If all Christians stopped assisting the radically impoverished peoples around the world, the level of global devastation would skyrocket. Yet, a lot of times, it's easier for a person to help "those folks over there," rather than open our eyes to the suffering that's happening just around the corner. I think sometimes local suffering makes us feel more guilty. Or, maybe in some cases, we're even judgmental of people who are suffering in this country and we're not as inclined to help. But, comparing my foreign missions experiences to my U.S. mission experiences, I still have to say that the poorest of the poor in this country do not even come CLOSE to suffering to the degree that people do in 3rd world countries. So, again....we need to help both.