Enter by the Narrow Gate

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
Matthew 7:13-14

September 2, 2014

Joy? My strength?

It's been another six months since I last posted a blog.  (sigh)   The words just haven't been there.  I used to write so easily about how the wonderful life-giving truths of life in Jesus Christ had become mine.  My growth is different now.  It's less about journaling my way through issues and more like just living my life.  That's not a bad thing at all.  I like writing, though.  I want to write, but instead I've been reading.

International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM
I've heard that writers should be voracious readers, too.  Well, I have been that!  I hope that in some subconscious way the reading is teaching my brain something that will help me write better -- or at all!  But anyway, this morning some thoughts did come to me that seemed to be well suited to this blog.  They were about joy.  I'm learning something about joy.

I was awake but having a hard time getting up.  I've had something called adrenal fatigue for several months and mornings are hardest.  I pretty much never wake up refreshed, so I have to choose to get moving.  As I do the energy slowly comes.  "This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it"  (Psalm 118:24) came to mind and I said it aloud.  The effect was immediate.  Not a huge effect, but an immediate lifting of my mood.   It's happened before, so I know that this choice of rejoicing, being thankful, is important.  The Word of God says that the joy of the Lord is our strength.  That's what I want to write about.

Joy is not an emotion.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:23)  That means it is supernatural.  I don't think we hear enough about joy in that way.  I believe that joy is something that God provides us with to help us with life - even to give us life which is satisfying, meaningful, purpose filled, vibrant, and full.  When Jesus was praying in the upper room before going to out to Gethsemane, he said, "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." (John 17:13 NIV)

Joy is mentioned a lot more in the Bible than I realized until I looked in a concordance.  My attitude toward my day this morning showed me how
Wonderful balloons!
powerfully joy affects us.  Nothing changed except that I chose to align myself with a scripture on rejoicing.  I didn't try to rejoice.  I just agreed that God had made this day; He had given me breath to wake up; He is sovereign over this and every day; He is my God and Father; today is in His hands and so am I.  That is a reason to rejoice!

This physical challenge has required me to really look at my thoughts, because I can let it depress me.  Sometimes I have so little motivation, I can't tell if it is depression or the affect of physical fatigue on my mind.  Maybe it doesn't matter, because I still have to choose a response.  (This is one reason I've been reading so much!  Sometimes it's all I feel up to doing.)  But God was so gracious to show me how quickly His Word made a difference to my whole being this morning. Joy is supernatural, it is transcendent, and it transforms us from the inside in the presence of any circumstance.

Please do not think for one minute that I am saying we should all work harder to rejoice or suggesting a formula.  This is all about the grace we have from God in relationship with Him.  God made the way through the cross of Jesus and our part is to choose what we will agree with.  As I thought about the power of joy, three words came to mind.  When we face unwanted circumstances (even terrible ones) we can Accuse God (You are not good!  I reject you.  I deny your existence.  I hate you.); we can Argue with God (If you are loving, how can you let this happen?) or we can Trust God (I don't understand.  I don't like this, but You are here with me.  My hope is in You and I need you to carry me).

So Cute!  (source unknown)
This must be how Joy becomes our strength.  When we refuse to be alone in life's circumstances, we cling to God.  We know that everything Jesus has is inside us as well, for He is there.  When we get that, we are strong and we have hope.  Not our strength, but Jesus's.  And not just our human emotions, but Jesus' peace and joy are there.  Our souls can defer to the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ in us.  In Him we can overcome. We can rejoice in the fact that He is going with us through our valley of the shadow of death.  We know that He will bring us out to green pastures and quiet waters once again.  He will restore our souls and provide an overflowing cup of all good things. (Psalm 23)  And we will know Him better for having walked these paths together.

Joy is a huge gift.  Ask for more.  Jesus prayed that we would have His full measure of it.

1 comment:

  1. I miss you sweet friend. I will call soon.