Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Culture of Praise, Part Two

"The Sea of Joy": What Grace Sees and Where Praise Abounds

The grace of God, extended to the humble soul, makes such vistas as what Spurgeon calls the “sea of joy” daily and vital parts of our worship. Ephesians 1:11 reminds: "All things are yours, for ye are Christ's and Christ is God's.”

“Reach the bottom of Christ's sea of joy,” Spurgeon wrote in his Morning by Morning entry on this verse, “and then hope to understand the bliss which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Overleap the boundaries of Christ's possessions, and then dream of a limit to the fair inheritance of the elect.”

The Ocean of Joy: an Allegory

Jedediah swam on, passing estuaries laden with spawning fish; crossing uninhabited coral reefs glistening in the sunlight; and making his way amidst underground mountain ranges, their virgin rock jutting with magnificent carvings. This ocean’s undeniable splendor spelled victory for the young boy, who had searched high and low for some degree of imperfection. Though he had scoured the ocean floor, square inch by square inch, exploring night and day, regardless of weather conditions, Jedediah’s quest for equivocation ended in emptiness every time.

At the boy’s request, Jedediah’s father had even sent out search teams—parties of ten to twelve who left every hour on the hour—to examine this amazing phenomenon of nature. They, too, arrived at the same conclusion: this ocean was magnificent, abounding in perfect bliss, where any of the Master’s servants might come to refresh themselves in its flawless splendor.

The ocean, over-laden as it was in wondrous beauty, had its counterfeits, masked behind all sorts of lovely facades, which tempted unwary ocean-going travelers, causing them to wonder about the ocean’s own authenticity; hence, Jedediah’s search. The boy now passed another swimmer and yelled, “Imagine, this is all ours, for our Master owns it!”

The other swimmer gave him a thumbs-up, saying, “I got a little hung up in that crazy lake back there.”

Jedediah looked back to where the young man pointed. A green lake, sparkling like a thousand diamonds in the sunlight, with the most lovely of plants at the water’s edge, offered refreshment, like the ocean. Jedediah squinted to read the sign posted in front: “Come and enjoy the Lake of Luring,” it read. “Don’t battle giant waves! See for yourself this wonder of nature.”

“I was very attracted to the sweet-smelling flowers outside the Lake,” the boy said. “And I really liked the part about not fighting giant waves. Even though I’d heard there were counterfeits in these parts, I didn’t expect any to be so close to the Ocean of Joy. This one seemed real, so I tried it.”

“What happened?” asked Jedediah, who was now treading water.

“A lot,” answered the boy, pushing wet hair back from his face. “The sweet smell seemed to lull me to sleep while I was swimming. Before I knew, it, I was gasping for water, choking for air. That’s when I cried to the Master of the Seas. Before I knew it, He had deposited me back onto dry land, and there I sat for what seemed like hours pulling out of my arm jelly-fish tentacles and sea urchin needles that my enemies had left behind.”

“Those animals were--in a lake?” Jedediah asked.

“Hard as it is to believe, yes. It was really a salty sea, you know.” Here the boy showed Jedediah the damage that had been done to his arm. There was no doubt: something very real had attacked him.

Jedediah’s new friend continued: “The sweetness I smelled actually led to poison tentacles in my arm, but the Master saved me from complete ruination. You know, as I was sitting on the beach, pulling out those prickly things, I looked up into the sky and noticed the Faithfulness Stack—you know when all those clouds pile high, one on top of the other and remind us of how our Master is just waiting to shower His servants with blessings? Well, it was just the encouragement I needed.”

“The Master encouraged me today, too,” Jedediah said, as he and his new friend walked across the sandy shoreline and sat down. Slowly, Jedediah opened his closed fist. The sunlight above caught a reflection of the glistening gem he held and scattered its beauty in several directions.

“The pearl of perfect peace!” his new friend exclaimed.

“It was in a clam I located just outside the coral sands,” Jedediah said. “If you want one, you can get as many as you like: there were several more where this comes from.”

“Isn’t it awesome to think we have such riches available to us at all times?” Jedediah’s new friend, whose name he learned was Jacob, said. “We can be right near Luring Lake”

“Or Desert Depression—“ added Jedediah.

“Or Vanity Valley,” said Jacob,

“Or Faithlessness Fort,” they said, looking at each other knowingly, “And simply call to the Master in humility."
Within milliseconds, we can be right here, basking in the glory of the riches of His grace, claiming His promise of the Ocean of Joy,” Jacob finished.

“Yes, thanks for the reminder,” Jedediah said. We’re only a fraction of a second away from what is rightfully ours, through Christ. What riches are ours because of our inheritance in Christ!”

“Well, let’s go get those pearls!” Jacob said, heading for the ocean.

“Make it there first!” Jedediah challenged.

And they were off, diving into the Ocean of Joy once again for yet another glimpse of the riches of the glory of their inheritance as saints in Christ.

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