I seem to be having a difficult time getting away from thinking about the importance of the joy of the Lord. Throughout the last few days and again today, I have had plenty of opportunities to not only read about it in the Word but also experience it firsthand! Last week I sat on the floor with an ache in my hip looking at all the boxes still stacked around our guest room and felt an increasing desire to be overcome with I saw. But then I considered the various contingencies that I had available to me… I could give in to the anxiety and yield to the stress of what was very real before me or simply sit back and begin to praise the Lord.
Now, I know of many folks who would think I was crazy if they saw me doing that, but the only other one in the house was my wife and I knew that she would be right at my side and join in with me if she could. In fact… she would have NEVER let it get as far as I did! So… I closed my eyes and began to loudly praise the Lord when suddenly… I saw the contents of the room in a totally different light. Instead of a TON of boxes, I saw groupings of five or ten boxes strategically laid out around the room – and you know they were! Without knowing it, I had grouped the boxes in related stacks when I went through them earlier in the week! Then I heard that little voice inside saying “Just do it in steps!”
Well, that instantly made the job more doable! Hummm… anger and stress got replaced with joy! Then a day or two later, after a particularly difficult time helping my wife take care of some personal needs, I found myself feeling sorry for myself, worn out, sore and sitting on the bathroom floor. Seems like I’ve been spending a lot of time on the floor lately, doesn’t it? Have you ever noticed how much harder it is to be strong in faith when you are physically challenged and needing strength? Well, that’s exactly where I found myself on the floor in that little room.
And for a moment or two I had the best little pity party I’ve had in a long time. But you know… it didn’t make me feel any better but worse for the wear! So I stopped, thought about it and where I felt my best answers would come from and began to… you guessed it… Praise the Lord aloud! Then I began to laugh! And after a few minutes of that I suddenly began to see the promises in the Word of God that we’ve been standing on for six or seven years become bigger in my mind’s eye than the physical situation I had just gone through. I felt stronger, happier and more expectant!
Then it happened once more as I was getting my wife up and ready for the day… about five minutes after my morning study time in the Word. It was really weird. All of a sudden it was like my mind changed to mush! Have you ever had a morning like that? My wife was a bit weak, but nothing I normally couldn’t handle, but I found myself doing strange things like putting her clothes on in the wrong order, putting items on her without taking off her sleep wear and… well, you get the picture!
Through it all though, my wife was a real trooper! She still has more patience than just about anyone else I know! I finally had to just stop, hold her up as she sat on the edge of the bed and sit on the floor in front of her (there I am on the floor again…) and ask: “Lord! What is going on here?” But before I got the words all out I knew the answer! Someone was attempting to steal the Word I had just studied about the importance and relevance of the Joy of the Lord being our strength! So without another thought I began to laugh and thank the Lord for His goodness and grace. Then I finished the job and we went into the kitchen to get breakfast.
All those experiences got me to consider something I had written down yesterday as we listened to the pastor preaching his message. Something he said triggered the thought that: “If the joy of the Lord truly is our strength, then it makes good sense that every Christian should be majoring and abounding in joy!” Then I this morning I added, “Instead of yielding to complaining, depression and fear!”
In our journey over these last ten years I have seen both sides of the coin coming from Christian friends and acquaintances and I will freely admit that it is A LOT more enjoyable and rewarding being around those major in joy and hardly dabble in the arenas of complaining, depression and fear. Now I understand that we all have to deal with attacks from those three areas, some worse than others, but the answer is still the same and it is actually quite simple. Praise, thanksgiving and laughter because you KNOW THAT YOU KNOW that Papa God’s Word is far GREATER than ANYTHING that the enemy of our faith would try and intimidate us with… and let me repeat that… FAR GREATER!
So, what will your approach be this week? Worry, stress and allowing yourself to be overcome with what is set before you or… Looking up to the power that is FAR GREATER than anything else and allowing yourself to be filled with the strength that comes with the JOY of the Lord? Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose JOY am I expecting to keep present and active in me today?”