I cheated a lot in high school. In several classes on end of the year exams I brought a cheat sheet and hid it under my test. One time I even completely written the essay we would write and copied it word for word. No one would have ever suspected me as a cheater. I was fairly sweet in class and always knew the right answers when called on. Teachers loved me.
I’ve noticed that it’s much easier to get away with things when no one perceives you as a threat. No one checks up on you because they don’t see the point. It’s taken for granted that you will not stray from the expected. And so the lies continue without conflict.
Much of college, or all rather, I pretty much lived day to day on what I thought gave me the most joy. This usually meant drinking until I could no longer stand and pretty much partying like a rock star….or so I thought anyways. I still don’t see anything wrong with seeking joy in life. After all doesn’t that make life worth living? Though my definitions of what brings joy have changed since then.
What I miss though about my former life is the lack of conflict. There was no war within my soul on what is the right course of action. Who cares what God or other people think? I grew up in a Christian home and came to realize how truly boring that life was. Needless to say I didn’t put up much of a fight for morality and thusly encountered no spiritual growing pains. No war wounds in the battle for righteousness. In this sense, life was pretty easy.
I can’t say that now. I have now found that there really is a joy in knowing God. A joy that is found in living for Him and serving others. Making that choice and taking that step to not live for myself alone brings me peace and joy. I wasn’t bored because of God before. I was bored in following a bunch of legalistic rules. The problem now though is the conflict. It’s much harder when one makes the decision in their mind to do the right thing. Suddenly life has complications and frustrations that were not so present before. Worse yet I find my strength quickly depletes if I don’t turn to God daily. Frankly some days I feel as though I am climbing a mountain; when before I was content to explore the valleys and plains.
So I guess the question is: why keep going? If one joy is without conflict and the other is then wouldn’t it make sense to follow the path of least resistance? Believe me I’ve pondered this more than I care to admit. However to me the difference, the unbelievably worlds apart difference, is hope. The hope that there is more to this life than what we can see. The hope that God has a plan, one far better than mine. The hope that the perseverance required to continually climb a mountain will one day reap a glorious reward. And so I fight. Fight to not take this life for granted. Fight to love others more than myself. Fight for the desire to love and know God more. I must fight for joy.*
*When I Don't Desire God by John Piper
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.