Joy Unspeakable

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The first step to joy is a plea for help, an acknowledgment of moral destitution, an admission of inward paucity. Those who taste God’s presence have declared spiritual bankruptcy and are aware of their spiritual crisis. Their cupboards are bare. Their pockets are empty. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice; they are pleading for mercy….

They ask God to do for them what they can’t do without Him. They have seen how holy God is and how sinful they are and have agreed with Jesus’ statement, “Salvation is impossible.”

Oh, the irony of God’s delight–born in the parched soil of destitution rather than the fertile ground of achievement.

It’s a different path, a path we’re not accustomed to taking. We don’t often declare our impotence. Admission of failure is not usually admission into joy. Complete confession is not commonly followed by total pardon. But then again, God has never been governed by what is common.      
~Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven

Oh, the irony of God’s delight–born in the parched soil of destitution rather than the fertile ground of achievement.

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.  Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”  ~Mark 10:27

Not by works that anyone can boast.

The first step to joy is a plea for help,
an acknowledgment of moral destitution,
an admission of inward paucity.

Destitute.
Alone.
Helpless.

Then, after the confession — realizing He hasn’t left you but has come even closer! — that’s when the joy becomes unspeakable and full of glory for Him. Only He can take the worst of you…of me…and wipe it all away.  He doesn’t get angry that you let Him down.  He knew you were going to…before the foundation of the world.  But He loves you so much, He made a way for you to come to Him. 

Knowing how much you need Him.
And Him, alone.
Nothing else will satisfy.

You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him, you trust Him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  ~1Peter 1:8

Admission of failure is not usually admission into joy.

God turns everything upside-down.
He frees you from your guilty conscience.
You admit failure and He declares you holy.

Set apart for Him.

I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
~Habakkuk 3:18

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12 responses »

  1. Beautiful and true! There is such power in confessing, not just the first initial confession and salvation that comes with it, but admitting that we still can’t. The freedom and joy that comes after humbling myself and admitting to God that I cannot, is truly unspeakable when the realisation comes that I don’t have to- that He can, and that I’m in the best possible hands 🙂

  2. I think I’ve read just about all of Max’s books. Not so much any more but I tore through just about all his stuff 5 years ago. Thank you for this reminder, Michelle.

  3. Just as you say, Rain,

    “The freedom and joy that comes after humbling myself and admitting to God that I cannot, is truly unspeakable when the realisation comes that I don’t have to- that He can…”

    That’s what I’ve been experiencing lately. It’s a huge relief…knowing He will take care of all our troubles.

    You’re welcome, Ric. Lucado sure knows how to make a point.

    Hey, Goth! I felt the same when I read it…it met a need. Love you, too!

  4. A loss of hope is what feeds depression. Finding a source of faith that does help us will rekindle hope, and will lead us to joy.

    The first step, often the most difficult, is too acknowledge that we need help. The leap to faith is rarely an easy one, and we often fall short.

    When we do find that source of faith that helps us, the joy we feel can’t adequately be described in words.

  5. Hey, Ed! You’re so right about this, “A loss of hope is what feeds depression.” I have found that to be true in my life. When I haven’t been able to see a way out, a way above, a way over, or a way beyond…the hopelessness creates a deeper darker place…

    I am so thankful to know God. As a Christ Follower I believe I’ve found the only true hope. And yes, He brings joy to this desperate soul. He awakens my spirit to serve Him…and therein lies the purpose of life. For me.

  6. If you were zinged at that time, Gracie…WOW, God is amazing. Thank you for remaining faithful to His call. Love you! 😉

  7. Love you too! — & oh, btw, I am *almost* positive that there’s a special event this week… “We now leave our normal programming for a brief announcement:

    “Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday to you!”

    (You never did reply what you’re asking our Papa for, for this, your new birthday year, Michelle! And He always gives better gifts than whatever we end up asking, so ask away! [Eph. 3:20-21])

  8. 😳

    Yes, Gracie. I’ll be 48 this weekend!!! Ugh.

    I’m asking for peace that passes understanding…He has been faithful to supply.

    😉

  9. “ugh”? Why “ugh”? (I remembered when I was 29, a good friend had her 30th birthday half a year before I had mine… she was all “blackness” over it!)

    Looking at your picture (“avatar”), either that person identified as “Michelle” is either a 30-something (truth! flattery’s an s-i-n, according to the Book), or a VERY young-looking “almost-48”!

    “As your days, so your strength”, dear sis (from one still older — but not necessarily wiser! – than you). Papa! Please infuse (yes, that’s the word! Thinking of you w/your vanilla-chamomile tea;-)) Your beloved daughter, Michelle, with NEW strength in this, her new approaching birthday-year! Let her “trade” (Isa. 40:28ff) her *old* strength (fading away, day by day, like Moses’ veil mentioned in 2 Cor. 3) for your bright hope of Glory (that Shekinah Glory, once in the Temple, but *now* living in each of Your children). Let Your servant *see* & sense more & more of *Your* sweetness in this new calendar year, despite the barbs, taunts, & flaming arrows thrown at her by the Accuser. Please open Your Word to Michelle this new year like the first time she opened it and knew the words were for her — in a similar way, let Your Word leap off the page for her, brightening this time when her path needs Your radiance! May each of Your thoughts bring a glow-in-the-dark brilliance, even today, & this birthday weekend! Send her at least one special birthday message Saturday reminding her of Your love & of others’ love for her! Hold her close to Your heart always, that she would clearly “get” You — more & more of You, O God! Yes, yes, and…YES!!!

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