December 10, 2018
By Tom Oostdyk
Teddy Roosevelt was a man who truly enjoyed life to the fullest. And his insistence on experiencing everything this life had to offer was contagious. While president, Roosevelt often engaged in walks in Rock Creek Park, with some combination of foreign dignitaries, military officers, aides, friends, and family. The premise was straight-forward: a distant point was selected and the party would walk straight to it. But the process was not so simple. No matter what obstacle lay before them, they had to go through it, or over it, but never around it! Streams were forded, rivers were crossed, cliffs were scaled, ravines were descended—Roosevelt relished the adventure.
The enjoyments were not just physical either. As a younger man, Roosevelt served for a time as a sheriff in North Dakota. While chasing thieves, he would read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to keep himself awake. What better way to redeem the time than reading the classic tale. Life was meant to be tasted, relished, and savored.
The book of Ecclesiastes exhorts us to rejoice for however many years God may grant us (11:7-8) and to fully savor life as a good gift meant to be enjoyed. Roosevelt understood this about life. But the Scripture pushes us further. To truly enjoy life, we must understand that there is more to it than what we can see. We are to remember: God is our Judge (11:9) and God is our Creator (12:1). Understanding these two realities directs our rejoicing toward righteousness that will bear eternal fruit.
God knows that our rejoicing is maximized when our delight is in Him. So if you want to know how to maximize pleasure in this life, delight yourself in God and the things that God loves. When we are properly rejoicing in God, everything in creation is calibrated to be enjoyed the way God designed it to be enjoyed. When we rejoice in Creation more than God, then that created thing ends up dominating us rather than delighting us.
Be deliberate in your joy. Allow God’s Word to shape your investments of time, resources, relationships, and choices. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin and righteousness and judgment. And look to Paul, who was willing to suffer the loss of all things for the privilege and satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil 3:8).