Where is your joy?

This, sent by a friend, was in my inbox this morning. It was written by John Newton, the converted slave trader and author of Amazing Grace.

All the temporal blessings and accommodations which God provides to sweeten life and make our passage through this wilderness more agreeable will fail and disappoint us, and produce us more thorns than roses, unless we can keep sight of His hand in bestowing them, and hold and use the gifts in some due subservience to what we owe to the Giver.But, alas! we are poor creatures, prone to wander, prone to admire our gourds, cleave to our cisterns, and think of building tabernacles, and taking our rest in this polluted world! Hence the Lord often sees it necessary in mercy in the lives of His children . . .

- to embitter their sweets,
- to break their cisterns,
- send a worm to their gourds, and
- draw a dark cloud over their pleasing prospects.

His Word tells us, that all here is vanity compared with the light of His countenance. And if we cannot or will not believe it upon the authority of His Word, we must learn it by experience. May He enable you to settle it in your hearts, that 'creature comforts' are precarious, insufficient, and ensnaring; that all good comes from His hand; and that nothing can do us good, but so far as He is pleased to make it the instrument of communicating, as a stream, that goodness which is in Him as a fountain.

Even the bread which we eat, without the influence of His promise and blessing, would no more support us than a stone. But His blessing makes everything good, gives a tenfold value to our comforts, and greatly diminishes the weight of every cross.

The Creator, not the creature comforts He gives, is the source of true joy.

Newton also wove this theme into one of his lesser known hymns:

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?“
’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Where's your joy today?

1 comment:

ben said...

Excellent post.

Sounds like Christian Hedonism... Only hundred's of years before Piper.

Some quick google searches found that Newton was born some 23 years after Edwards. I wonder if there was any connection between the two, or if Newton had an opportunity to read Edwards? Although I admit I would not be suprised if he had not. This is afterall the very same God of whom they speak and whom they so treasure.