I’m loving Springtime. The green lawn, the warmer days, the expectation of Summer trips, these things bring me a lot of happiness. And, I am choosing JOY. Thirty years ago, while I sat in my darkened office, in a real depression, a good friend, who was a mental health professional, stopped by. He opened the curtains while telling me: “Bro, you gotta let the sun shine in!” Tom was so right. His words were both literal – about getting out of the gloomy dark, and figurative, about the importance of choosing joy.
Are you inviting the Light to shine in your life?
Are you living in ways that invite the Holy Spirit to be welcomed in your life?
Are you exercising faith, practicing real acceptance, learning to lean on the Lord?
Living with joy does not require a vacation to some exotic locale. A walk in the park can boost our spirits. Satisfaction of hunger does not demand a feast! A hamburger shared with friends can delight us. So it is with joy. We can find joy where we are. We can be miserable or we can be joyful.
Oh yes, I am well acquainted with sorrow and disappointment. Choosing joy is not the same thing as creating a fantasy that lets us escape from reality. Joy is a gift of God to those who will receive it. Pastor James says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:2-3, NIV) His counsel is that we ‘take charge’ of our thoughts, that we redirect them from dark places to hopeful faith.
Few things will sabotage joy more completely than trying to assume control of everything in life. Situations arise that defy explanation. God, Himself, allows us to go through experiences that leave us grasping at ‘why,’ wondering about His love and goodness. People we trust will disappoint us. That’s not being negative. It is just the reality of the world in which we live.
But, we can bend with the wind, bowing our heads to the Sovereign God to receive His grace. Acceptance must not be confuses with resignation. Resigned people just give up but usually with resentment which causes bitterness. Acceptance is fed by faith that renews the soul and lets us live with joy.
As Christians we live purposely, not drifting. We ‘keep our eyes on Jesus!’ Pray often – “Lord, shape my life, lead me, keep me centered in You.” If we misuse the gift of freedom we will rob ourselves of the joy of Jesus. When we pursue Him with faith, we find rest and joy. When we are willful, when we choose our own way, ignoring the Spirit’s leading, we walk out of the sweet fellowship, the comfort of the Spirit, which is a lonely and vulnerable place to be.
If you are in a storm, a first step to joy is to remind yourself that nothing happening in your life surprises God. Our successes, our failures, are all known to Him. I confess this truth, praying for faith to live it. Will you? “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!” (Psalm 139:1-6, NLT) As faith grows, joy grows.
Here’s a word from the Word. The preacher, Habbakuk, knew that terrible times were coming to the people of God because of their sins. What did he do? “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT)
Rejoice in the Lord today.
All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain, I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this…
Now my heart’s desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and known as Yours;
To possess by faith what I could not earn,
All surpassing gift of righteousness…
Oh to know the pow’r of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You;
There is no greater thing!
You’re my all, You’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You, Lord, love You, Lord!
Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055