Ultimate Joy

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11

Summer is here! The temperatures are warmer. The kids are out of school. Just about everything is inviting us to get out and do some fun stuff. Summer is a time where we get to step out of the norm, so to speak, and experience things that we don’t normally do during the rest of the year. We make vacation plans, camping trips, hikes, and outings to places we wouldn’t ordinarily go.
What are your summer plans? Many people plan all year for a week or two of summer where they vacation. Maybe you are a mom with all of these amazing plans of hikes or trips to the zoo, creative games outside, or homemade slip n’ slides. We research options and gather the things we think we will need. We search the internet for ideas and places to experience and our hopes are high for the best summer ever! And then reality sets in. Turns out that amazing vacation spot was also a great idea for 10 million other people, at the same time. Or it doesn’t seem as great as the filtered instagram photos you saw. Your vacation days get shortened unexpectedly or the cost for that once in a lifetime trip to the newly reopened Casa Bonita just didn’t fit in the budget. That fishing spot you heard about was not as good as the guy said. The homemade slip n’ slide lasted all of about 30 seconds and now the kids are crying and bored. The Best Summer Ever Right?!
I think we all have been there where we make plans and are excited and expectations are high and then we are, well, just disappointed. What do we do with this? Well here are a few suggestions.

First, we need to remember that our joy is not dependent on an experience. Our Joy is found in Jesus and the eternal hope we have in Him. When we remind ourselves of this it takes the pressure off of trying to manufacture the perfect experience. We are not perfect and therefore, we cannot make anything perfect so why even put that standard on ourselves. When things are not as amazing as we hoped, it should draw our attention to a day when Jesus returns and we get pleasures forevermore.

Second, we need to enjoy the opportunities that we do have despite our unrealistic expectations. So often, we can focus so much on what we didn’t get to do or see that we completely miss what we did get to see or experience. Things like the simple giggles of our kids playing in the dirt. Awful sing-alongs on a car ride. Making new friends at the crowded destination. Experiencing an unexpected destination because of a change of plans. Or the simplicity of an evening cookout with friends. All of these are gifts of grace from God the Father.

Also, so often we leave the Lord out of our plans and expect to have the best time ever. We neglect the time of corporate worship, Life Groups, our time in His Word and prayer and we wonder where our joy went. The psalmist says in His presence there is fullness of joy yet we somehow expect to find it in the things of the world. God is our hope and joy and He has invited us to experience it to the fullest in Him.

This summer, plan that trip. Build that slip n’ slide that you know will not last. Maybe even plan a meal at Casa Bonita this summer. But all the more, remember that God makes known to us our path of life and true ultimate joy is found in Him. Instead of stepping away from time with the Lord and His Church, let us press in. This will always help us enjoy our summer plans all the more.
I love you guys and thanks for allowing me to be your pastor.

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