Saturday, March 4, 2017


"The battle in your life is against your joy." (Eldridge, Walking with God)  How often do we feel like this? Life is full of hassles, battles, disappointments chipping away, one by one, little by little wearing us down until we're just trying to survive.  In fact, as I was attempting to write this several things interrupted my precious early morning time when the house is supposed to be silent.

Our 9 month old was cooing in his bed an hour before he normally gets up, one of our 4yr old twins wet her bed, and to top things off, a rat poked its head out of the linen closet (not joking) sparking an all out war on its existence.  At least now we can pinpoint what's been making the occasional noise in the ceiling the past couple of weeks. Suffice it to say when God speaks, he speaks!

A lot of times we think life is just hard but the truth is "God wants us to be happy, but he knows that we cannot be truly happy until we are completely his and until he is our all. And the weaning process is hard." (Walking with God). This leaves us with a choice-we can take joy in the weaning process as a daily reminder of how much we need God and his grace and be thankful for the transformation he's working in our lives, or we can be frustrated and disheartened at all of the struggle and strife life seems to bring.

Psalm 1:3 says:
"Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers."

When we're joyful and walking in the Spirit we're like that tree planted by the stream-strong, full of life, we feel bulletproof and want to love others and share in joy with them.  We're more able to roll with punches and enjoy the subtle moments of life-kids giggling as they do something mischievous in the other room,  the look in your infants eyes as he proudly claps his hands together, the sometimes crazy circumstances God shows his presence through.

So what does it take to get to a place where as the Psalmist says "My heart leaps for joy?"  It starts first with questioning what's missing or has been overshadowed in life.  I think most of us have access and opportunity for plenty of joy, we either don't notice or it is overshadowed by other things.  As Gary Keller says in The One Thing "The challenge is that the right question isn't always so obvious. Most things we want don't come with a road map or a set of instructions, so it can be difficult to frame the right question."

This is not so with God, the only question that needs asking is 'what is it Lord?'  This brought out a recurring theme as I tried to unpack my lack of joyfulness in December.  There was this post on Joy from ransomed heart on 12/30, a timely chapter on Joy in a book I was reading (Ortberg, The Life You've Always Wanted), as well as the lyrics to what's been one of my favorite songs over the past year (guess I got stuck on the catchy beat and didn't pay attention to the words):

We're choosing celebration
Breaking into freedom
You're the song
You're the song
Of our hearts

As the lyrics say, joy and celebration are a choice, and choosing requires us to stop and take notice there's an option. So often we run from one thing to the next, so caught up in busyness that we don't even pause to celebrate a victory before moving on to conquer the next.  God created us for joy but how do we ensure it is experienced in our daily lives?

Be observant
God wants to speak to us and is persistent as clearly shown in the example above, we just have to take the time to stop and listen!  Think about what would have happened if Moses was late for a meeting and hadn't stopped to take note of the burning bush or if the Samaritan had rushed off like the others who had passed by the injured man on the road.  As Dallas Willard said "You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry in your life", one of my primary goals for 2017!

Choose it
"Extraordinary results are rarely happenstance. They come from the choices we make and the actions we take." (Keller, The One Thing)  On average, it takes 66 days to form a habit.  This is not something that's going to happen overnight.  Make Joy your priority, put it at the top of your daily to-do list, pray daily if not hourly that God would bring you to a place of Joy and take notice of all he's doing.  Use the 66-day Calendar if you think it will help!

Surround Yourself
"Each of us knows a few people who are joy-carriers.  When we are around them, they breathe life into us.  Prize them. Thank them.  Above all, get intentional about being with them." (Ortberg, The Life You've Always Wanted)  There are certainly people in my life who fall into this category and one of my goals for 2017 is to be intentional and spend more time with those folks.

Now is the Time
The Psalmist (118:24) said "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Form a mindset to rejoice at any opportunity you get-you hit the light that takes forever green on the way to work, the elevator is waiting for you when you walk in the door, or better yet you hike up the 5 flights of stairs to your desk and are filled with joy for the oxygen you are now gasping for.
Just the other day I was a bit preoccupied on the way to work and prayed "God, show me your presence in a very real way today."  Shortly after, one of my favorite songs came up on my playlist and as I was rounding a corner I saw a huge puddle in the road which of course I joyfully splashed through because that's what you do in a Land Cruiser!

Easier said than done, and something I'm still struggling to practice daily, but if we take on a mindset and build a habit of joy while being observant and relying on God we can make every day, even every moment, an opportunity to experience Joy. As John Ortberg says "If we don't rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die.  If we are going to rejoice, it must be this day.  This is the day the Lord has made. This is the Dee Dah Day." 

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