“God is and always has been an exuberantly happy God.”
I read this sentence in John Piper’s book, The Pleasures of God, and I nearly dropped the book. I stopped reading. I underlined the sentence and asked God, “Really? You’re really happy?”
On some level, I think I’ve known God is a happy God. All over the Bible there are phrases like “the joy of the Lord” and “delight” and “pleasure.” Honestly, until recently, I’ve glossed over those. The pressure I have put on myself to work hard for God and do good for God and never give up for God, I got all caught up in what I should do instead of who God is.
In fact, that is why I started reading John Piper’s book. I felt like I spent all my time reading scripture so I could know about me, so I could understand what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to act. I needed something to help me turn my focus from me back to God, to train my heart to focus first on who God is so that I might reflect Him accurately.
I got all caught up in what I should do instead of who God is.
My life last semester didn’t reflect God. It reflected my unhealthy need to meet worldly expectations. And if I get brutally honest, it reflected who I thought God was…someone I was working for.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t have good moments, that I didn’t speak with the power of the Holy Spirit, that I misrepresented God theologically. But all those moments, good and bad, left me a tangled mess on the floor. A tired, tangled mess. A tired, tangled mess that one day looked into my daughter’s eyes, saw that she needed me, and had nothing to give her.
A profound moment that told me, something is wrong here. Hence, all this #OperationRest stuff.
In the book, Piper talks about how God created this world and all in it out of the overflow of joy He had within His relationship with His Son. His work was the result of overflowing joy.
Overflowing joy, y’all. I mean how many times have I done stuff out of the overflow? I think not often, unfortunately. Yuck.
This whole overflow thing shifted how I thought life was supposed to work. One day on Facebook, my dear friend Chelle told me this:
“An empty pitcher cannot pour.”
True words. It put the pitcher metaphor in my head. And so it reminded me this (duh): I have to continually go back to the Source of Living Water. What I thought that meant was something like this:
1. Go have quiet time.
2. Get filled up.
3. Pour out what I received.
4. Go back get more.
Just typing out this routine makes me tired.
Am I going to God to get filled up or am I going to God to be with God?
Am I going to get something or am I going to enjoy something?
All last semester, I was having quiet time and pressing into the Lord, but there were so may days I still came up empty, depleted. And I thought it must be my fault. Was I not being efficient with what sustenance He had given me? Was I not spending enough time with Him? Was I not receiving correctly?
And then the word overflow came and God gave me another vision. It was a vision of a pitcher constantly overflowing. There was never a time of empty because the water just kept coming. And I saw myself giving, but never having to claw myself back for more sustenance because it was already there. What I gave was out of the overflow of what He had given me, instead of just giving away well, me.
At this current time, I see where He wants to lead me…to this state of overflow. But the problem is, see, I don’t know how to live without burning the reserves, without giving away myself. I have a hole in my pitcher and I need to go to the repair shop. I have to let Him plug the hole. I have to let Him teach me how not to leak. And if I don’t, I’ll never experience how to give out of the overflow of joy as I walk this life. I’ll live depleted, desperate for the next drink, parched, in a dry and weary land.
And I don’t think this is what God wants for me. I don’t think it’s what God wants for you. God loves a cheerful giver, my mentor reminded me, and in order to find joy, you’ll need to find rest.
And I feel guilty about this rest thing. I feel guilty about not working. I want to continually make things better, but in the process, I’ve been making myself worse. And I’ve missed knowing things about God because I’ve lived out all these preconceived notions I have about Him. And I need to discover this other facet of Him that I have not really entertained…really lean into it. This facet about His love and mercy. His tenderness. Because I can proclaim it and I believe it somewhere, but I haven’t let myself live it.
So, cheers, to the overflow.
It would be a great honor if you would stop by on Wednesdays and Fridays to read these stories submitted by women across the world who are reaching out with their brokenness so to help another sister along, to help her find courage in the face of fear, encouragement in the face of unknown, and hope in the face of despair. It is in this communicating with each other that we continue to build the community God has graciously granted us at the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood.
On Wednesday, Heather writes part 3 of “Trapped in Depression.” This installment focuses on trust, even when she didn’t see results right away. I love this line: “When I asked Him to heal me… I waited years. And I chose in every moment to trust that He wanted me healed. Even in the midst of fear and failure, I called on Him. I waited.”
On Friday, Shelly writes “Perspective on Pain.” Shelly is in the midst of a huge health battle, where she fights pain and even keeping herself…herself due to her disease. How does she find joy? Come read her story.
SDG Gathering Important Information
Lisa Smith and Jen Ferguson facilitate our #SDGGatherings each week. Lisa visits those of you who link up on “even” numbers and Jen visits the “odd.” We do have some important housekeeping items about this gathering, so if you have not read them, please come here to catch up. The condensed version: Link up ONE post that shares your heart authentically and be sure to check in with some of your sisters who have linked up with you. Leave a heartfelt word of encouragement for them after you visit their space. This is a community where we actively seek to get to know each other.