Empty, empty, been running on empty
I thought I was running toward joy
but I was really chasing my hope.
And when I finally arrived,
what I thought was my joy
turned out to be dissatisfaction.
Joy is not a destination, it’s a choice.
It is not a landing place, but a fuel.
Made from the crude oil of hope
it springs up from the river of life
that runs by the throne of the King.
It flows to the hearts of those
who will turn their affection there.
Resting from their running for a moment,
by still waters they receive their joy.
Do you know that feeling I’m talking about? That oddly empty feeling that can settle in after you’ve pressed hard towards a goal for months, years, maybe even a lifetime, and when you finally reach the goal, you finally sit down to rest and that feeling bubbles up out of nowhere. You find yourself wondering what’s next and why it didn’t feel as good to accomplish that thing as you thought it would. We’ve all known that feeling. The wealthy and successful may know this feeling of emptiness better than anyone else. The cliché “It’s lonely at the top” finds it’s root in that feeling; and many celebrities, athletes and even pastors have struggled with that truth.
King David writes in the Psalms, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This is a man who was King of a great nation! He was an accomplished warrior, a beloved King and God’s chosen. A wealthy man with access to any pleasure his heart desired, yet he found his fullness of joy in God’s presence.
We were all created with a deep dissatisfaction that can only be fully filled in one place. We often fix our eyes on a goal or prize and then set all our energy, thoughts and dream life towards that thing. We daydream about what it will be like when we get there, but when we finally do, it wasn’t all we hoped for.
That’s because full joy is only found in the Presence of God. Fullness of joy will not be found in you getting married, getting your dream job, booking that gig, becoming rich, going on that vacation, getting more followers on social media or even in having a family or a successful ministry. That’s not to say we aren’t meant to pursue or enjoy these things in life, but if we don’t pull our joy from the presence of God, then we will constantly be seeking our joy from these other things and we will continue to be disappointed. If you thought it would take one of these great achievements to bring your joy then guess what? Joy just became so much easier! God’s presence is easy to access. His presence is tangible, transportable, and accessible in every situation. It doesn’t waver with recessions or trends or other changes in life. It doesn’t require anything from us, except that we come. No matter how busy it is around you, your spirit can always choose to rest in his presence and receive His joy.
All the honor, accomplishment, recognition, peace, joy, and rest you’ve been pursuing is found in one place: in the presence of your Father. Instead of trying to pull those things from the world, let us believers, pull those things from the Father as we’re supposed to. Then, as ambassadors to the earth from the Kingdom, we can bring the rare gift of true joy to the world.
Prayer: Jesus show each and everyone of us the secrets to resting in your presence and bringing it wherever we go. Thank you that the Kingdom of Heaven is righteousness, peace, and joy! (Romans 4:17) And you have more than enough joy to fuel us through every situation life may bring.