Don Goulding - Blog

Pinball of Joy

Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return;
they will enter Zion with a happy shout.
Unending joy will crown them,
happiness and joy will overwhelm them;
grief and suffering will disappear. (Isaiah 51:11)

My mind shoots up toward hope like a pinball, but then it U-turns back to despair. Thoughts arc through God’s sweet zone, only to succumb to the gravity of carnal habits and a bitter outlook.

Joy is the byproduct of obedience. Therefore, it is a choice. I can watch idly as my mind falls into negativity, or use the flippers and bumpers to propel myself upward. Under my right hand is the paddle of God’s word. Press that button and the bright promises of forgiveness and paradise launch my heart up to hope, where it belongs. In my left hand is prayer—reflexive taps send every temptation up the sovereignty ramp. Then there are the bumpers of praise, fellowship, and songs. Father gave me ample resources to keep my heart out of the gloom.

Joy is the natural disposition of God’s creation. Only here in this earthly pastime, does hell’s curse of negativity hold sway. We were not created for this box—for the downward pull of darkness. Our spiritual genetics are joy. We inherited that from our Father, who is joy.

The epicenter of all realms is God’s throne, surrounded by rejoicing creatures. We were meant to be permanent celebrants at that party, but Satan antagonized us into cashing in our birthright through disobedience. God couldn’t endure the death of our joy, so he gave us another chance through Jesus. He gave us the pinball game and free will to choose how we play.

One day Christ will lead me out of these arcade confines and into a place without physical or spiritual gravity. Nothing bad will tug on me, and I’ll float in God’s bliss. Until then, I have the levers, paddles, and bumpers to roll my heart back and forth over joy.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I choose you, I choose joy.

Child of God

See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children- and indeed we are! (1 John 3:1)

I loved her. She was the apple of my eye. But she ran, skipped, and sang in her own bubble of contentment. I didn’t exist in her world. Then, right before I awoke, the small girl flashed a dimpled smile, and ran into my arms. That hug clung to me after I rose and went to my prayer room.

“You are that child,” the Holy Spirit said to my heart.

The dream allowed me to taste God’s heartache. He dotes on me, and I barely acknowledge him. All he wants is a return of a few drops of the love that throbs all through his heart. Dour service offered out of guilt is not what he’s after. There’s no need for another stone-faced sap earning his way toward heaven. It’s when I come as a joy filled child, vulnerable and dependent, that God flings his arms wide.

No father, especially the heavenly one, can resist a child spinning wildly, squealing in delight, and locking their eyes on him at every turn—as if to say, “Hi, I still love you.” God never rebuffs enthusiasm and adoration as he does pride and self-sufficiency.

My heavenly Father has an unjustified predisposition to choose me. With reckless love, I am in his heart and on his mind. He protects me and laughs with me. He’s infatuated with my joy.

God only wants a wink, a giggle, or a blown kiss as his child turns. How can I help but take time to make his heart happy? I want to dance to him, and relax with him. Most of all, I want to quit pretending I’m all grown up and just be his child.

Prayer: Abba (Daddy) Father, I love you.

Preparing Seed

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer. (Philippians 1:21, 22)

“Please stop talking about death. I don’t like the thought of you leaving without me.” My wife decreed her moratorium on the subject.

Earlier in the week, I’d performed a memorial service for a deceased saint, which left me consumed with thoughts about paradise. To lock our sights on heaven is healthy, but I was ignoring a bigger reality.

The Bible discloses our life process. Once we accept God’s adoption, we’re marked as seed for inside the gates of the New Jerusalem. From adoption until death, refinements into Christlikeness pack genetic material into our seed. At resurrection, we burst into our full spiritual creation, patterned by the earthly kernel. 

When my seed is called up for planting, these days will seem precious and few. More accurately, I’ll realize my earthly longevity was balanced between mercifully short and opportunely long.

My wife is right I can’t go yet. I’d transform to a feeble sapling. But even that would be okay, because I’d rather be a sprout in God’s courts than a giant sequoia trapped on earth.

Hallelujah, because I’ve been gifted a double blessing. The Lord gives me today to ready my seed, and eternity to celebrate the fruit of what he does in me. I have one undeserved honor stacked atop another.

Prayer: Lord, may every moment of every day be used to honor you into eternity.