The Daily Joy: A Christian journalist wonders why he is so prone to overlooking the facts
As a big fan of the Dallas Mavericks, I am more or less guaranteed a good summer. The Mavs won their first-ever NBA championship this month. That is a good feeling for me, to say the least. I love the team, and the championship reminds me of everything I loved about living in Dallas for 14 years of my adult life and the many people there I love and miss. And did I mention I love the team?
Every morning, regardless of what is going on in my world, good or bad, or how foggy I may feel when I awake, it is only a couple moments at most before I remember that the Mavericks are champions, and I am instantly happier — it adds a little sheen to everything. It’s good to win: to quote Charlie Sheen, “Duh!”
So, shame on me. Why? Because: I do not similarly dwell so quickly each morning on my salvation in Jesus Christ, or the perfect, holy sovereignty of God, or the safety of my eternal destiny in Him, or the astounding provisions He makes for me daily, or the glory of God so clearly at work in nature and history, or … well, you get the idea. Too often, when I wake, at other times, too, I think like a pagan, or an atheist, or (worse) like Charlie Sheen.
What in the world is wrong with me? I am not focused on reality, somehow. My sloppy, sinful brain and spirit are constantly dwelling on the wrong things. As a journalist, this concerns me doubly. I arrogantly regard myself as observant, and yet, straight out of the bed sheets every morning, I am overlooking key facts — the ones that comprise what should be the joy of being Christian.
One of the best books I have ever read on the Christian Life is “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure,” the classic by D avid Martyn Lloyd-Jones, based on dozens of sermons he delivered on the topic. I can’t do the book justice here, but one of the themes Lloyd-Jones hammers on is that we need to focus primarily on the character of God, the person of Christ, His work and His promises — not on ourselves or our own circumstances. Makes sense, and yet, I can’t get it right. Maybe you can relate?
That God is perfect and holy, that he controls all things, that I am saved from my sins by the blood of Christ, that I am a born again, a new creature in Him, that my Creator is my Redeemer, that Holy Spirit dwells in me, that the purposes of God never change and cannot fail — all of these truths should be self-evident to me daily, because God has opened my eyes to them. I once was blind, but now I see. This may be foolishness to others, and pity to them, but even more pity to me when, though I can see, I pretend I can’t, or can’t seem to be bothered to contemplate what I see or know to be true.
That the precious blood of Christ would be more precious to me, something that immediately comes to mind when I awake and just before I fall asleep, and would govern my outlook, thoughts and actions in all moments between waking and sleeping — that is a worthy desire. That I would more readily feel joy because the Lord saturates my thoughts — that is a worthy aspiration.
If I am a decent journalist, I should be joyful — not because that is my personality (believe me, it’s not), but because I’m simply confronting the facts. Some days I feel like I am a reporter standing on the beaches of Normandy wondering about, and writing stories about, when the Allies might come and liberate Europe, even though the liberation occurred decades ago. That’s how senseless, how dumb, how unobservant spiritual depression really is. Father, forgive me and purge me of my lingering, willful blindness.
This summer, I get to be happy every day because a particular team won the professional basketball championship. Next summer, maybe I’ll be forced to find something else to give me that little lift.
Or, better yet, I could praise my Lord Jesus Christ, who will never be defeated. I could cling gratefully to the presence of the Holy Spirit. I could think like a Christian. That might be worth trying.