“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
Westminster Shorter Catechism
“Christian spirituality wrongly understood is a great source of human misery.”
Some of us may be new to the idea that God is fun, expressive, welcoming, and easy to please. However, living in deep joy, contentment and confidence in our everyday experience of God will fuel your ministry. We simply will not be effective without it! So, as you break out the sunscreen and ice cream this summer, consider these 5 ways to enjoy God more—
1. Discover what you really want. The first question Jesus asks his disciples is “What do you want?” (John 1:38) Depending on our view of God, this may seem almost too good to be true! Or even selfish. The truth is we need to quit lying to ourselves and embrace our inner world, being honest about our deep desires and emotions. There is power in naming what we want and how we feel. However, this goes against the grain of so much in Christian culture today, where we are superficial and pretend, thinking “niceness” is the epitome of spirituality. Notice Jesus is not telling us what we should want.
He is asking. What a loving thing to do! And then follows up with this statement, “Come discover for yourself” (John 1:39).
Jesus is inviting us to “the inner journey of the soul, where we meet a God who interacts with our deepest selves, who grows the person, who allows and forgives mistakes. It is precisely this give-and -take that makes God so real a Lover. What kind of God would only push from without and never draw from within? Yet this is precisely the one-sided God that many Christians were offered and that much of the world has now rejected.” (Richard Rohr) Create space in your summer schedule for silence, stillness and solitude to discover what you really want.
2. Start slow. Sit with God as the sun rises. Stay away from social media and email in the early morning hours. Read a short portion of scripture meditatively, receiving his words as personal to you and anticipate all the goodness he has stored up for you. God loves us a whole lot more than many of us are willing to experience. We know in our heads “God loves me”. But every day we need to experience and feel God’s love and acceptance of us, much like a newborn needs comfort and care from a nursing mother. I love how Isaiah invites us to view God -- “For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” (Isaiah 66:11) Linger longer, letting God love you in the mornings before you go out and attempt to love anyone else.
3. Really listen to a stranger. Have no agenda other than noticing God’s beauty in them. Do not fix, judge or compare. Smile, fully engage and welcome them, asking questions and genuinely showing interest in who they are. Hospitality means openness to what guests and strangers bring to us. We receive a revelation from the stranger which can change us and enrich our lives, opening us to new possibilities and ways of thinking and living. (Gerald M. Fagin) Enjoying people is noticing and enjoying God.
4. Play and Pray. This is the heart of the Sabbath. Choosing one day/week to focus on growing our friendship with God, invites us to experience rest and renewal in ways that we love! Find delight in your busy life. Spend time in nature, enjoy a great meal with people who are soul-filling, take a nap, read a book that draws you deeper into intimacy with God, or do nothing. Experiencing God in ways that lead me to satisfaction is the key to effective ministry and a happy life. We live and lead out of our satisfaction. My satisfaction comes from being loved in the Secret Place, not in what others say or don’t say about my leadership. How is God inviting you to play and pray in ways that help care for your soul?
5. Mix it up. Many of us are addicted to our way of doing things, our view of life and even our view of God. A cure for these addictions? Do the opposite of your ordinary personality pattern. You will participate in your own healing and feel more joy. If you are highly disciplined and tend to be critical of others who are not, be spontaneous and eat ice cream. If you find yourself always leading and gain power by showing control, clean up after dinner. Spend the day working under a shade tree in your backyard with your computer instead of going to the office. Go on prayer walk or mini retreat without your phone, instead of posting your latest and greatest on social media. Get away to the mountains or beach alone. And discover something new about God and yourself. Becoming more self-aware AND God-aware is a sign of healthy spirituality and increased joy!