Enjoying God can seem like such a lofty, unattainable idea. Because God is not a tangible being, we can tend toward focusing more on study, prayer, theology and head knowledge. Those are things that we can understand and measure to some degree. However, there is another aspect of Christianity, namely, enjoying our great God who gives us incredible gifts. God desires for us to enjoy him and bask in the enjoyment of his good gifts.
We can tend to think of God’s gifts as tangible American-dream type things. Perhaps we think of money, children, vacations, high rank at work or a faithful spouse. While all of things are certainly gifts, God’s gifts can also be found in areas that we may easily overlook.
God’s gifts are all around us. From the aromatics of a garden-fresh dinner to the delicate strokes of a painter’s brush, we’re invited to delight in simple pleasures from our Creator. Thankfully, he has not designed us free of emotion. Have you ever gotten so overwhelmed with the stars and the planets that you can do nothing but praise God? Have you ever been in such awe of an actor that you forgot you were watching a play? Or have you ever simply delighted in the deeply sweet taste of a peach so much that time seemed to stop? He designed us with the ability to be completely taken over with joy that points us back to him both in massive and simple ways.
Trillia Newbell brings the lofty idea of enjoying God down to earth for us in her newest book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God's Good Gifts. She reminds us to simply enjoy God’s creation in other people, intimacy, work, rest, possessions, food (both physical and spiritual), creation and art. She provides basic biblical teaching in each area and intertwines it with a vast picture of God. The reader is left desiring to enjoy God not out of guilt, but out of awe for who he is. She closes with how to delight in the giver, looking ahead to everlasting enjoyment in heaven.
Newbell keeps this statement in the forefront throughout the book, “. . . true and right enjoyment focuses on God, on delighting and enjoying him forever,” (pg 9, Enjoy). Some could mistake the topic to be a prosperity-driven endeavor. Newbell, however, helps the reader keep the awesome gift-Giver in mind. She warns that we are not to enjoy the gift without praising him who gave the gift.
For those who live their lives simply “getting by” day after day, this book is a challenging breath of fresh air. Newbell invites her readers to look for and enjoy God’s gifts in everyday life. To live any other way is to miss the delight that God intends for his people as we live our short lives on earth.
Newbell takes the time to encourage those who overthink delighting in God or who tend toward guilt. Perhaps we feel guilty for spending money for a getaway with our spouse or a family vacation. God’s good gifts can be found in these material things, and he desires for us to enjoy them. Of course, this can be taken too far, but Newbell presents a healthy and balanced view. Enjoying God is an intentional choice to turn away from consumerism and toward the Giver of all good things.
Enjoy is not written from a naïve or callow perspective. Instead, Newbell shares stories of tragic loss and pain from her own life experience. Many will be able to relate because of her openness. How is one to enjoy God’s good gifts when going through a time of misery? First, those who are going through a difficult time can rest because Jesus has done the greatest work for us: peace with God! Newbell also encourages the downtrodden to rely on their future hope that is to come in heaven, where there are no tears. God’s gifts are very much current and are also to come. This is the wonderful idea of “already but not yet” by George Eldon Ladd.
The aspect that makes this book stand apart from others like it is The Enjoy Project. Each chapter ends with a reflection and heart-changing project in which the reader is asked to evaluate her own heart and mind regarding the topic at hand. This book would thrive in a small group setting. However, don’t miss out if you aren’t involved in a small group. You can do the project alone or with a faithful friend.
What does “enjoying God” mean in real life? How does this lofty idea become grounded in our hearts and minds? Enjoy helps us grab ahold of this and take the time to delight in God through his gifts that surround us daily. The Enjoy Project will gently press you to identify ways that you are missing out on enjoying God and his gifts guilt-free. I joyfully recommend this book for both individual and private study. Newbell recommends that you read one chapter per week, but I found it hard to put down as my heart was renewed and challenged to live out Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”