Enjoying God by Tim Chester
Throughout the New Testament, we are reminded to consider our trials joy (James 1:2), to rejoice in our suffering (Col 1:24), to live a life of joy (a key theme in the book of Philippians); yet in the midst of trials and heartache, joy is often far from our minds. I recently had a beautiful friend share her struggle- how was she to feel joy when she was simply clinging to Jesus with the little she had left after her cancer diagnosis and treatment. And you know what- this question is natural, isn’t it? How do we be full of joy when sometimes life is exhausting and painful?
In Tim Chester’s book, “Enjoying God”, he deals with this exact question. For it is in our suffering that we so clearly see the Saviour. Chester writes, “with Jesus, past behaviour is a completely reliable indicator of his attitude towards us now.” (p.88). As Jesus is the same today as he was yesterday and will be forever (Hebrews 13:8), looking to the Gospels and the way Jesus related to people then shows you and me how he relates to people now. Chester unpacks this further- illustrating for us the comfort Jesus offers to the mourning widow at the funeral of her son (Luke 7:11-17), or the forgiveness he offers to the two different women burdened by shame (Luke 7:36-50 and Luke 8:42-48), or the life Jesus gives by offering faith to the anxious father Jairus with his sick daughter (Luke 8:40-56). In all these situations, Jesus shows he is a personal and relational God, a God who has suffered and risen again, a God of mercy, tenderness and overwhelming love for us that pours out from his heart to ours.
As Chester so beautifully writes: “We can be certain that love which Christ, when on earth, expressed to be in his heart, and which made him die for sinners at the command of his Father, continues in his heart still, now he is in heaven. And it is as quick and as tender as ever it was on earth, even as when he was on the cross.” p.95
So often, I consider the characters of the Bible abundantly blessed to have met and sat and talked with the Saviour. However in “Enjoying God”, Chester encourages us- we too have a real and living Saviour, the same Saviour, and through Him we can meet and sit and talk with our God. As we fix our eyes on the reality of Jesus, we can “look back to his work on the cross… [we can] look up to his presence in heaven for [us]; and [we] can look forward to the day when he returns for his people” (p.84).
It is true, in this life that we can’t meet Jesus in the flesh; we can’t physically sit and chat with him over breakfast on the beach, yet we can have an encounter with him. Jesus is with us in Spirit, inviting us to hear him, talk with him, know him and enjoy him. What a blessing!
In “Enjoying God”, Tim Chester gently calls us to think through our ideas of who God is and to bring them under the authority of God’s word. As we realign our sometimes skewed ideas of the God whom we serve, we can get to know him more personally and deepen our respect, appreciation and adoration of him. For we are called to love the Lord our God with our hearts, with all our soul and with all our mind (Matt 22:37). In filling our minds with the goodness of God, the enjoyment we feel in our hearts flourishes.
“Enjoying God” by Tim Chester is a wonderfully practical book teaming with theological concepts expressed simply. He unpacks the wonderful truth of who God is and personally shares the impact it makes. This book has been a great reminder to me of who God is and a sweet invitation, reminding me that God isn’t just a God of the mind, he is a personal God, a God of the heart, offering a relationship with us, and that is to be savoured and enjoyed.
Meet Emily Cobb
Emily lives with her husband David and three young children on the North Coast of NSW. She loves to write and reflect on who God is at her blog www.PursuitsofGod.com and aims to encourage other women to think theologically. In her spare time, she loves to explore her local area with her family and a picnic, pick up a creative project, or enjoy a nice cup of tea while reading a book. Emily is the author of Made for More (Matthias Media).