Wednesday, April 19, 2017

for when you are looking for joy

This isn't the first time this exact subject has been shared, it's not even the second, or even the third.  It is in fact the fourth version of this post that has come from keyboard to screen to others' eyes.  So for a list of verses that will pull your heart in please take the time to visit one of those links.  
The original reasoning behind sharing this again was because for the third time this year some yucky germs have filtered their way through our family and constant cleaning, laundry, care taking and/or being cared for has been happening for a week straight.  Writing something original today felt like a task weighing too heavily upon my shoulders, yet skipping completely, though done before when need arises, didn't feel right either.
However as thought and word came together, the original reasoning took a back seat to fact, I needed to ponder these words and verses again, to be reminded of their truths, and to see the growth that has come because an ever faithful Father has been working in me, always working.
There have been countless times in my life where I have struggled with finding joy.  Times when I didn't feel right, just not quite myself.  Years ago, God started opening my eyes to the circumstances around these feelings so that I could begin to pinpoint when it might happen or at least recognize the cause when the lack of joy was felt. At the time, four triggers were noticed that caused the heart to dip and joy to leak instead of remain full, (1) exhaustion (2) feeling overwhelmed with too many tasks, thoughts and decisions (3) not spending time with friends who encourage me (4) letting the lives others make me feel discontent with where I am in my own life. Since the original list, another has been added.  (5) letting past trials take up too much presence in my present.  
The past longs to haunt you, to bring you back down to where you were or who you used to be but all the while God is reminding you that you are not who you were, you are a new creation, being renewed day by day.
Today the past had no hold on me, and in a situation where frustration would usually reign, where triggers would  usually flip and hard roads would be trodden down yet again, Joy was there to greet me instead.  The most beautiful part was that I didn't even have to choose Joy, Joy chose me. 
O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
Months ago, literally, there would have been more than one pity party, frustrated outburst, and emotional meltdown mixed in with the extreme search for joy in the midst of the not so normal.  Even with the hard learned knowledge that my joy does not come from me or my surroundings but only because I am a child of God and that I have an amazing Savior who sacrificed himself so that I could not only have everlasting life BUT that I may also enjoy the life he has placed me in here on Earth despite the circumstances I am in, there would have just been non-holy guilt for not living that out instead of the Joy it so beautifully describes being able to live out regardless of life's bumps.
Joy came in the morning.  It fought against flesh and won the battle and in turn reminded me that no matter how many times I have failed at this in the past, the Spirit is constantly working and changing those inner dispositions to be more like Christ so that each day I can look and see that He is good.  He is so faithful, completing that work in each of us.
But Joy is not alone.  The fruit of the Spirit takes many shapes and we each struggle with different aspects of it at different times.  We look at life and get discouraged that we aren't as patient as we would like to be.  Not as loving.  Lack self-control.  And yes kettle, this pot may be calling you black but listen anyway.  Remember you are being renewed day by day, not immediately.  Don't be discouraged by your failings, be encouraged by the one who continues to pull you forward especially when you fail.  Because when you "ask  it will be given to you; seek, you will find; knock, it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (Matt 7:7-8)
I'm praying that you can see Joy, but even if right at this moment you see anything but, I pray that you will ask for it and seek it out because if you are abiding in Christ you will find it.  Please pray the same for me.

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