It was the first time I had ever seen white sand and blue water. Robert insisted that I meet him in the Dominican Republic after a scouting mission trip he’d been on there. Weighed down with tasks and obligations, I kept refusing, pointing out both the irresponsibility and impossibility of such a trip.
So, he just booked me a flight and let me know my travel dates. I was not happy.
But when my bare feet finally made it to the beach with its warm white sand, clear blue water, bright hot sunshine, and real live conch shells something happened in my soul. My muscles relaxed, my attitude was hopeful, my mind was clear, my lungs could get a deep breath. Never have I been so free from stress and anxiety and fatigue.
My heart was exulting.
He was our first kid to apply for college. I’d fully believed this homeschool journey was the best thing for him, for all of my kids. I had assurance from the Lord, from friends, and from numerous books and experts. Somehow, though, an acceptance by a university became the seal of approval in my mind. Had I really done the right thing? Or had I ruined my kids forever?
Then the Baylor acceptance arrived in the mail with all of its green and gold glory. I’m pretty sure I snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook.
My heart was exulting.
Did anyone watch last year’s Superbowl? Or World Series?
If you were a Patriots or Astros fan (as I was, temporarily at least) your heart was exulting. I mean, what incredible comebacks and athleticism.
Exult: show or feel elation or jubilation, especially as the result of a success.
It’s not a trendy word. It’s been out of fashion now for about 200 years, but it’s a great word, and don’t you just love a good word?
I came across it this week while reading the book of Romans. I finished Acts and now I’m on to the letters, which is where I plan to stay for the rest of the year. Romans is a truly amazing work of art. If you haven’t ever studied it, you should definitely make it a priority sometime in the near future. Listen to what others have said about the book:
Martin Luther: “It is the chief part of the New Testament and the perfect gospel . . . the absolute epitome of the gospel.”
Phillip Melancthon, Luther’s successor: “The compendium of Christian doctrine.”
English poet, Samuel Coleridge: “The most profound work in existence.”
John MacArthur calls it “breathtaking” and “marvelous” and goes on to delineate these facts about it:
“And so, this is a marvelous book. And we could go on and on just talking about all of the things that it’s accomplished. It quotes the Old Testament more than any other New Testament book, 57 times. The most common words in Romans are the word “God,” 153 times, the word “law,” 72 times, the word “Christ,” 65 times, the word “sin,” 48 times, the word “Lord,” 43 times and the word “faith,” 40 times. It’s about God, the law, Christ, sin, the Lord, faith and all the ramifications of those terms.”
Yes, the beauty of the language plus the truths and logical arguments found in the book of Romans has caused many a scholarly heart to exult, but each of them would also attest to the “elation and jubilation” it stirs regarding God Himself.
The word exult is found three times in the first eleven verses of chapter 5.
we exult in hope of the glory of God.(v. 2)
we also exult in our tribulations, (v. 3)
but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (v.11)
The Greek word is καυχάομαι, or kauchaomai and it means something similar to our English definition – to boast, glory, joy, or rejoice.
Boast in what? Glory in what? Rejoice over what?
Justification by faith.
Having peace with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Being loved and sacrificed for while we were still sinners.
And even in our tribulations, because they bring about character and hope.
Blue water on warm white sand could never accomplish that kind of peace and rest.
A college acceptance from a top choice school is not able to produce that kind of joy.
Championship victories with their resulting pride and celebrations pale in comparison.
And yet we glory in those things more than the Cross of Christ. Or at least I do.
Several years ago I met with a young woman angry at God over a closed door in her life. She walked away from church. She dropped out of small group. Her baptism was no longer important to her. I asked her why and what it would take to remedy her bitterness.
“I need God to do something big,” was her reply.
And even though my heart is also prone to exult in open doors and material blessings, I knew what to say in response.
“He already has.”
“God is never going to do something bigger for you than send Jesus to put you back in right and peaceful standing with God.”
But it wasn’t enough for her. It wasn’t compelling. It wasn’t impressive. It wasn’t what she wanted. The good news did not cause her heart to exult.
Here’s another prayer I think God loves to answer, because really, and sadly, we’re all looking for God to do something bigger than redeem our helpless souls:
Help me to exult in your salvation, in the hope of your glory, in the peace I have with You through Christ. May I boast in the Cross alone and rest in your love and power. May I rejoice in the forgiveness I did not deserve. And may those things outshine every earthly thing I exult in as they should.
It’s been my prayer this week – for myself and for the church.
Reading Romans only adds fuel to the fire of exulting.