“JOY is the settled assurance that God is in control of ALL the details of my life. It’s the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright; the determined choice to praise Him in all things.
You and I must connect the internal with the Eternal so that we get a good perspective on the externals in such a way that we allow JOY to flourish. You and I have to connect what is going on in the inside of us with that eternal perspective of God and what God values so that we can interpret all the external things that happen to us in a way that allows us to experience JOY. That’s some soul work. It doesn’t come easily. It doesn’t come naturally. It doesn’t come readily. It requires some soul work – going back and saying, ‘God, forgive me. I’ve tried to find JOY here, here, and here and I can experience it for a brief period of time, but it doesn’t last. But, God, You are unchangeable.’
I do believe that there has to be a mind shift that says, ‘I can experience JOY’. If you are operating on the ‘No, it’s not possible for me’, you won’t search for it. You won’t take the right steps. You will continue to place your hopes in the wrong sources. So, it has to start with a willingness to come back again and say, ‘God, You have said that JOY is my birthright – Galatians 5:22 – the fruit of the Spirit. I received the Spirit when I became a Christian. So I received the fruit of the Spirit. JOY is the second fruit that is given in that passage. So, it’s mine. It’s there. It’s my birthright. You’ve intended me to live with it. You’ve intended me to experience it. So, God, even though that doesn’t make sense to me right now, even though it doesn’t fit my experience, even though it goes against everything I have seen about myself up to this point, I’m willing to believe that JOY can be mine’. It has to start there.
And then on a daily practice one of my favorite ones is to live in the moment because we just get so caught up in perfectionism and what it’s going to take for us to feel joyful or happy – all the little ducks have to be in a row – we can’t just enjoy the moment. It has to be perfect. Well, perfect moments happen so rarely, but moments happen a thousand times a day. So, begin to look at a moment. It may be literally that fleeting – a smile on the face of someone you love or care about, the sunshine on your face, the taste of something in your mouth that just so fantastic it’s your favorite food and when put that food in your mouth it’s like ‘OH! This is SO GOOD!’.
What is that moment every day that you can enjoy? It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to last five minutes or five hours or five days, but it is a moment. We just want more than we are given. We want to be given days, years, weeks, months, eternity…..whatever. And we’re not always given that. But we do get moments. So, if you can begin to practice being grateful for that moment, enjoying that moment, reveling in that moment, then JOY will begin to bloom and slowly grow larger and larger as you take the moments.
And, it may be a painful moment. That’s what is even harder to deal with, but there can be JOY even in the painful moments – the moments when the sun doesn’t shine, the moments when what you put in your mouth is actually gross, the moments when you don’t see the smile. In fact, you may get a frown. That doesn’t mean that JOY can’t be present because in every moment God can be found. So, live in the moment that you are experiencing because that’s where God is.
Jesus was a man of JOY. We have a stereotype that God is angry and wants to squish any happy feelings we might have out of our lives. We look at Jesus and see him as just being the man of sorrows. But, if you carefully look at the New Testament, you will that Jesus was a man – a REAL man- who laughed, who played with children, who told funny stories that we just don’t get because we don’t understand Jewish humor. When you can look at Jesus as a man of JOY as well as a man of sorrows, I think it gives us permission to seek a life of JOY for ourselves. If Jesus, who carried the weight of the world on his shoulders, still had time for laughter and JOY and relationships and funny moments, then I can as well. His life gives me permission to seek that life of JOY as well. ”
I’ll be the first to admit that choosing JOY is something that is hard for me. In fact, it is not my personality bent. But in my search for JOY, I am seeing that JOY is my choice to make. It’s something I am going to have to begin working on because I haven’t felt joy in a very long time. How about you?