With a tinge of disappointment, I wrapped up my current study on the Biblical book of Philippians over the weekend. But as I turned toward the book of Colossians this morning, I just had a feeling that I wasn’t quite done yet! So I flipped back through my notes over the last few weeks and reviewed the highpoints that I had come to experience in this exciting letter written a few thousand years ago by the Apostle Paul.
My recent journey through the book of Philippians had actually begun last month when I came to the end of a personal study of it and was meditating on some final thoughts concerning the idea of “Being Joyful.” Then with that phrase in mind, I did a search on the internet using those two key words and low and behold, I came across Dr. Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” Bible commentary series. As it turned out, his commentary on Philippians was entitled “Be Joyful.” That caught my interest and I purchased a Kindle version of it, which meant I had instant access to its contents and immediately began another exploration into what I like to refer to as the “Joyful Book of the New Testament.”
As I contemplated on all that this morning, I realized that I have just about always been what some might consider being a joyful person. Without a doubt, I take after my Mother on that behalf. She once told me that I took after my Grandfather with his easy going, always positive and joyful personality. So whatever the reason, I normally find myself looking for a joyful answer to whatever is on the path I walk each day.
And I guess that is why I like the book of Philippians so much. Paul seemed to have the same attitude and wanted to pass it on to the readers of his letter. He insinuated that it was an important key to a successful Christian walk. He talked about the four foundations of our minds that will produce a joyful attitude and lifestyle in the midst of any situation. These were a “single mind,” a “submissive mind,” a “spiritual mind,” and a “secure mind.” A mind that is focused and yielded to God and the truth of His Word is one that cannot be moved when we find ourselves in the potential grasp of a downward spiral in life.
I have personally come to understand that my joy cannot be based on what I see with my natural eyes, but has to be founded on my increasingly intimate relationship with Jesus and my overwhelming expectations in His Word! My inwardly based joy has been the constant in keeping my head above water in the current journey that my wife and I are walking in regard to the attack on her health.
I’ve been unpacking, going through and organizing the pile of boxes in our guest room over the last week. In doing so I have come across A LOT of pictures of family events through the years. And while it has been a time of sweet memories, it has also been a difficult experience as I repeatedly come upon photographs capturing the joy, laughter, energy, smiles, sensitivity to the things of God and the overall “spunk” that has always marked the personality of my wife. For me it has been a time of laughter, lots of smiles at the evoking of the memories and an experience of personal tears.
But it has also served to renew my expectations in God and the truth of His Word in having the final say-so with her current situation. In her abnormal quiet state today, I sometimes find myself questioning her feelings toward me, but when I see the pictures of her laughing at something I did or said to capture the look in the picture, or the mischievousness in her eyes when see stood in the ice-cold Sierra creek on one vacation in 1998 surrounded by our two youngest kids, I couldn’t help but be assured of the real Piper that still thrives inside her and of the love, compassion and joyful zeal for life that just seems to be temporarily covered up by the symptoms of this disease. (It’s funny that our youngest daughter immediately replied back in reference to the copy of that photo I text to her on Saturday with great laughter and total recall to my wife’s words and funny antics following the taking of that picture!)
I also realized that my joy not only affects me, but those around me. I understood at that moment, once again, that I have an important responsibility to keep the joy levels high in the atmosphere of our home… not only for me, but maybe more importantly for my wife’s personal fight toward God’s promise of total recovery. (Mark 16:18) So, as you can see, I have come to understand Paul’s lesson on Joy as being one of the most important tools in the Christian’s tool belt for personal success in life, as well as in sharing the gospel to our world. After all, it is called the Good News isn’t it? If so, then maybe we need to inform our faces and put on a joyful countenance for others to see… and experience personally!
Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to be JOYFUL today?”