It's almost too ironic: after a week when I've been very worried and stressed, Pastor Joel Tetreau preaches on anxiety and worry. After a difficult week when I've been particularly frustrated, disgruntled and sorry for myself, he teaches on Joy. Funny how that works!
But it's definitely to my benefit. Like me, you may have heard before that JOY stands for "Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last." Simple, but true, and very hard to live. You may not have heard this (I'm quoting from the handout):
- Joy is a by-product of "Living in Christ." Sometimes Joy is "felt" as a gift from the Holy Spirit (Phil. 1:3, 5,10, Gal. 5:22, Ps. 4:7)
- Joy is a tool for "Living in Christ." (Sometimes Joy is not "felt" but determined based on the facts of our faith, not the feelings of our faith.)
I thought the second point was aimed right at me. I tend to focus A LOT on my feelings, not on what I know to be true by faith. I tend to forget the John 13:17 principle I talked about some before, where right thinking
leads to right doing, and then it's followed by right feeling.
"The crossroads for many believers is this. Satan has stolen their joy using the same technique he did on Adam and Eve. First, he built up "unfair expectations" toward God and others. Second, he tempted (and succeeded) Eve and then Adam in not being content. Notice the result when this happens: You loose Joy, You find Sin (or it finds you!)" The above quote really caught my attention. I'd definitely built up some unfair expectations of God and Brian, and felt let down and discontent as a result. And as I wrote on the side of my paper, according to Psalm 16:11, we don't have any excuse for not being joyful. We like to tell ourselves that we can't be joyful because of _______. Maybe our marital status, job, finances, health issues, etc. But Psalm 16:11 says: "You make known to me the path of life: in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." If we are God's children, we have God's presence with us always! We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and God promises never to leave or forsake us.
I made a lot of excuses for why I wasn't joyful last weekend. In fact, even Sunday afternoon, I was back at it. I'd written Brian an email the night before with all the things I'd wanted to express all week when I didn't think he was listening, so we went to our complex's pool after Sunday lunch for some couple's time. Brian finally told me that he had a hard time wanting to listen to me because I'm "always negative about everything." Despite the superlatives, there was some truth to the statement. I shot back: "Well, I had a really hard week! It's easy for you to be positive! You get to leave and go to work every day, where you have friends and everyone likes you. I'm stuck here all day by myself with lots of dirty dishes and laundry!"
We had a good talk I think, and it clarified for me that I was just not being content with where God has me right now. Sometimes I feel stuck...not stuck as in I wish I were single, but stuck at home doing school until Brian gets home, fixing dinner, cleaning up, and going to bed, day after day after day. After all the frenzy of school where I actually had to go to campus, involvement with our college group, teaching a Bible study, wedding planning, the wedding, honeymoon, and move, this seems really boring! I'm ready for another adventure!
But I think I'm beginning to see God's plan for this time of inactivity. I got way too busy for a while there, and I was neglecting the most important thing: spending one on one time with God, really listening and learning and worshiping. I think I'm "stuck" so that I can learn to be still and appreciate who God is.
And so, this week I'm going to be looking for joy. I'm going to pay closer attention to the everyday things that God has blessed me with. Every day (hopefully) this week I'll post something that brings me joy. I'm going to focus on the positives and delight in the simple things of life.
Do you have joy? Often, seldom, or never? What's keeping you from experiencing joy? What brings you joy?
Labels: Encouragement, Faith, Inspiration, Joyness Journal, Spiritual Growth