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The Agliaphobic Church

   

     Agliaphobia is defined as the fear of pain or discomfort.  I think this is a condition that describes our culture in general, and the church in particular.  It's not that pain and discomfort are unknown, only that we desperately  seek to avoid it, and at almost any cost.  We avoid it, deny it, and medicate it.  We don't want to experience it.  So many in the church have, as one man put it,  exchanged the God of all comfort for comfort as God.  We live for the pursuit of happiness, but happiness is an elusive state because it always depends on what is happening around us.  Happiness is based on circumstances, and the Father never promised it.  What He did promise us was His joy.  Joy is the deep sense of His presence and peace within, regardless of what is going on without.  Too many see this as a nice ideal, not a true reality.  Are you and I found in that "many?"
     I recently heard evangelist James Robison tell a story from the early days of his ministry of a young woman named Pam, who was suffering with brain cancer.  During one of his crusades, he'd been made aware of her, and was asked by her family to visit her in the hospital.  Being at first reluctant to do so because of his busy schedule, he felt compelled of the Father to go.  When he arrived he encountered a girl deeply in love with, at peace with, and filled with the joy of the Father.  She didn't complain of her state, or even ask for prayer.  She spent the whole time with Robison remarking on the goodness, faithfulness, and love of the Father for her.  When Robison left her, he remarked to his associate, "I have never met anyone so alive."  A few nights later, Pam was brought to his crusade.  She was in her hospital bed, her head swathed in bandages, and weighed only 80 pounds.  This young woman, only 6 months before a beautiful, athletic swimmer, who now lay on the border of death, spoke into the microphone held by Robison once more of the goodness, faithfulness, and unending love of the Father in Christ.  Her small, emaciated body radiated the joy of her Lord from within.  A week later, she was gone from this world into that which had always been her true one; the Kingdom.  Pam knew true joy, and not even the destruction of her physical life by a deadly cancer could take it from her.  For her, life, even when it included the cancer, was an act of worship.  She gave Him her cancer, He gave her His joy.  She knew the secret.  Such joy and such love.  Do we know anything of it?  Do we know the secret?  She released all to Him, and received all of Him.  Though her body was dying, she was fully alive.  Are we?
     Leon Bloy said that "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God."  We have so little joy because we have so little of Him.  He has so little presence in our lives.  Chris Tiegreen says this is so because we fail to seek His intimacy.  David wrote in Psalm 16 "You will fill me with joy in Your presence."  Is the infallible sign
Bloy speaks of in yours and my life?  Is the wholehearted seeking of the intimacy of His life a characteristic of our lives?  Are we filled with His joy because we are swept up into His presence?  Or, are we, like too many others, swept up instead by our unending pursuit of happiness, and equally unending state of frustration at its absence?   Pam, as her body wasted away in death, was fully alive.  Are we?  Do we truly have the joy of the Lord, or, are still seeking after a counterfeit we call happiness?  Which marks our lives today?

Blessings,
Pastor O       

 

 


 

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