[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] I [/dropcap]’d better get a bloggin’ if I’m to keep this site going . . . sheesh louise, why is life so busy?! And how do I find time to write out all that I’m thinking and get my thoughts separated into posts that are focused and not all over the map . . . ? So this will be a post that will be written as I’m able to get to it, which is not my style, but it’s the way it’s going.
Long story short . . . we had a special speaker at church yesterday (Sunday) morning and evening. He’s been one that has preached at our church several times, but it had been about 4 years since his last visit. So we knew that a.) it would be good, and b.) even with our cleaning jobs and sleep deprivation, it would be well worth the trouble of a long busy day and dragging the three kids to both the morning and evening services. So we did. And my kids freaked out at the night service and were a total nightmare for the nursery worker, but such is life. Moral of the story though, it’s still worthwhile to get to church as this is what happened:
During first service worship, I noticed that something felt odd. Just felt different than normal, and then as I was worshiping, I noticed someone in front of me and I specifically noticed their quirky style of worship. I started to think wow, what’s up with that?, and then I started to chuckle. Then it hit me that God loves when His kids make Him laugh. And He loves a heart that truly worships Him. So the quirky, unique style of someone’s worship brings Him joy. And I pictured my second born, who so loves to be funny and goofy as he loves to make us laugh. He brings everyone so much joy, and that’s exactly what was happening with this person and God. The person was bringing joy to God’s heart, and somehow, God was letting me get a glimpse of what He was feeling. I’m not remotely describing it accurately enough, but it impacted my heart. And that was the beginning of a lesson on joy for me . . .
I’ve never been a joyful person. I’ve wanted to be one, but negativity, disappointment, discouragement, etc. all seem to plague me. They always have. I’m a serious type. My firstborn has this tendency as well. Yet I look at how naturally joyful my second born is, and I want that for his brother. I want that in my life. I’ve always thought on the verse in Hebrews that says that Jesus had more joy than anyone else. Actually, it says this in the Amplified (in reference to Jesus):
God, [even] Your God (Godhead), has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.
It also says that Jesus came that we might have abundant life. Part of that life is joy, and if you do a study on joy in the Bible, you will realize that joy is something that God truly desires for us. Jesus came that we might have a joy-filled life.
I can’t honestly say that I realized that until yesterday. I can’t honestly say that I realized that God gets joy from watching us. But I was starting to realize that . . . and during the night service, the preacher used several points/Scriptures to draw out the idea that joy is God’s idea for us. God cares enough about us to desire that we live and walk in joy. We all know that this life can easily suck the joy right out of you, but do we realize that Jesus is alive and flourishing on the inside of us? Which means that He wants us alive and flourishing?
It would seem to me that there are not a whole lot of joyful Christians out there. In fact, the most joyous Christians I’ve met have lived in Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, and in a variety of places/circumstances that seem to lack a whole lot of comfort. Yet these people are full of joy; they’re full of Jesus. I know there are joyful American Christians, but as a whole, I seem to hear a lot of discouraged, waiting on my breakthrough, well, God must have something better than this talk going around. And sure, we all have seasons of hard times. I’ve definitely been there and been that, and I am NOT the poster child of the lot of joyful Christians. Yet I think it’s time that changed. And I realized that on Sunday night; I think most of us in the auditorium realized that. I think we all got a big infusion of joy that night as well as we realized that Jesus paid such a high price in order that we might be whole – spirit, soul, and body whole. That means whole in our emotions, our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. We’re not just waiting on heaven; we’re to be living out what He paid for us to have now.
That’s why Paul was able to write that he had learned to be content in all circumstances. The Apostle Paul did not live an easy life as he was beaten, persecuted, jailed, and had to earn a living in the midst of traveling and encouraging churches. He was not sitting on the couch, watching TV, eating bon-bons, and then preaching on Sundays. He was not living the plush life. He was living a life of purpose, infused by the Holy Spirit, powered by the Holy Spirit with the knowledge of who He was in Christ, and because of that, He had deep contentment. He pressed on knowing that Heaven awaited him, and yet knowing that until his time on earth was done, he had much to accomplish for the Kingdom of God. I think we’ve kind of made Paul out to be this short, little man who was slightly balding, near-sighted, single, and kind of eccentric. Yet instead, I think he was probably a fireball preacher who was quite driven and fully eternity minded. I also would guess that he was quite passionate and saw his life as a bit of an adventure with God. As he spent the end of his life under prison guard, I don’t think he was moaning and saying “if only I could travel, if only I get get out and change the world, and finish my calling!” I think he contentedly faced his circumstances and was obedient to do what God had put before him as he knew that God would place him where he needed to be when he needed to be there. I think he did it joyfully as well.
And I think back over the last several years of my life as I’ve moaned and cried because my husband works such long hours and works every single weekend. I’ve moaned about this trial and that circumstance, and I’ve had many days where I’ve not tapped into any kind of joy at all. I’ve struggled through the days of being a working mom with little ones; struggled through hours of laundry, cooking, changing diapers, and dealing with temper tantrums. I’ve thought if only Mark were home more, if only I didn’t work, if only we lived back in the UK, if only life was slower, if only we had more money and less debt, and on it goes.
Yet really it should be – if only I walked in knowledge and daily joy of what Jesus has done for me, of how much He cares for me as I parent little ones, and how much He knows and sees my heart’s desires. If only I realized that and walked in the joy of knowing that He knows. If only I realized that I bring joy to His heart, and He laughs and loves when I laugh with my boys, when I enjoy this life that He’s given me, when my heart is happy. How much better, fuller would this life be if I walked around with a deep joy and contentment, knowing that my God knows and cares, as I parent, as I work, as I do all that comes with being a wife, mom, sister, friend, daughter, neighbor, and employee? How much better would life be if I just decided to enjoy it, because Jesus truly did too much and gave too much for me to not enjoy it? And the reality is that my breakthrough came when He rose from the dead and left all of my sin, sickness, hurt, disappointment, and garbage on the cross. My fullness of life came when I bowed to Him and asked Him to be my Lord, when I received all that He did and gave up all that I am for all that He is. That’s really something to think on . . .
So as un-eloquently as I have written this all out, I hope that it makes some sort of sense and might make someone think. Or maybe as I process more and think more on this, I’ll do a rewrite, but for now, this Scripture is truly where it’s at . . .
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10 AMP
**I chose this photo to accompany this post because it makes my heart happy. It reminds me of how God the Father must feel when He looks at His kids. Photo was taken by Jenna of Jenna Rose Photography.