With five young kids, our house is pretty much a hurricane of chaos from the time the alarm goes off in the morning until bedtime. There is always a meal to prepare, a storybook to read, a mess to clean, supplies to be ordered, a child to correct, a fight to defuse. For years I dreamed about having a husband and children, and eleven years in we’re deep in the throes of parenting and child-raising. It’s like there’s a party going on around us 24/7!
These little ones are some of the greatest gifts that God has ever given me. Like gifts that my son unwraps at his birthday party, they bring me great joy! From their first steps, to hearing “I love you,” to watching them understand the unique way God has created them, to seeing them serve others and make good choices about friends – children are a gift from the Lord. And gifts are really good things.
In Psalm 16 we are reminded that God is the Giver of good gifts: “You are the Lord, my only source of well-being.” James restates this truth in his New Testament letter as he writes, “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
You probably don’t need the Bible to convince you that gifts are good. Who doesn’t love to receive a gift? But have you ever received a gift, but forgot about the giver? For example, if my son were to open all of the birthday presents from his friends, but forget that his friends had even come to his party. Or if all of the people magically vanished from the party the moment he opened his gifts and he was left alone with all of the flashy, new toys to play with, but no one present.
You see, the gifts we give one another were never meant to bring us fullness of joy. They are fleeting, they were given to us for our enjoyment for a time. But they are not to be our ultimate source of joy!
So where can we find deep, lasting joy?
“I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight.” –Psalm 16:11
In God’s presence alone there is fullness of joy! Theologically my head and even my heart agree, but if I were to be honest, as a mom with young kids at home this has been more difficult to see. The practicalities of life with five kids threatens to overwhelm me as I run from one task to the next, making sure everyone’s needs are provided for and skimming the surface of superficial joy along the way.
Yet God whispers to me, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I need to remember that I am more than “mom,” I’m also a child. I desperately need to be in a place where I can receive from the Father.
What noise is it in your life that keeps you from hearing from God? Is there a place where you’ve allowed the joy of an earthly gift to superficially satisfy the deep joy that really only the Giver can provide?
Will you join me this week in seeking out that quiet place?
I’m learning all over again in this phase of life how to simply be in God’s presence so I can hear from Him. That still small voice; the one that I simply can’t hear above the chaos; the one that makes known to me the path of life, that One who gives me counsel and instructs me.
If this has been a struggle for you recently, I’m praying that you too will rediscover what it means to enter into the presence of the Lord. Because in His presence alone can we find deep and lasting joy.
Week 5 Challenge:
Reflect on James 1:2–4 this week. Why is it important for you to find joy in trials? Are trials always meant to test your faith? Why do we need endurance in our walk of faith?
Week 5 Reading Plan
Week 5 Memory Verse
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