When I opened the door first thing this morning to take the dog out, I had put on a coat but did not zip it up as the thermometer on our patio read a warmer than normal temperature of forty degrees. I quickly realized the folly of my actions when the wind howled through the breezeway and frosted my t-shirt with a burst of cold air! The dog was pulling at the leash so I was not able to zip up my coat until we reached the lawn area next to our apartment. As I numbly fumbled at the zipper I was amused to observe the dog standing in the middle of the grass with a mystified look on her face and her nose in the air as if a thousand different scents were arresting her senses at once.
That scene got me to thinking about how the stormy situations we encounter in our lives can present us with seemingly thousands of scenarios to follow at the same time! Within a matter of a few seconds Mandie lowered her head and returned to her regular morning routine of sniffing the grass in a path that led to the edge of the apartment and eventually back to the breezeway toward our home… as if everything was normal. Her nonchalant response to the momentary distraction caused me to consider how God’s love, peace and joy should influence our responses to the distractions that we face.
In the last few blog posts we have looked at the role of God’s peace that is driven by our love from and for Papa God. In John 15:11 Jesus continued His teaching about our role in not letting trouble or fear lead us and about continuing in His love by adding His thoughts about the importance of His joy working in and through us. He stated “I have spoke these things to you so that my joy might remain in you and your joy might be full.” (MKJV) This declaration makes it easy to understand that joy is to be an important trait or characteristic that Jesus believes should be visibly evident in our lives.
Is joy something that others easily see in you? Is it a characteristic that people would use to describe you? It took me a while, but I finally realized that is was sadly missing in the lives of those who put their hope in the world’s answers rather than in the truth of God’s Word when it came to the attack on my wife’s health. I use the phrase “sadly missing” because these folks were sad and it was hard not to be sad when you were around them! This experience has taught me about the “joy test!” When tough times come I have learned to do a quick personal inventory of my thoughts, emotions and visible stature. If I find myself with an inner joy that is expressed through a smile, a happy word and a hop in my step – in spite of what’s going on around me – then I know that I am trusting Papa God! If, on the other hand, I find myself sad, without a smile and feeling a bit sorry for myself, then I know that my hope is in the wrong place!
I’ve also learned that I am not going to let any situation and/or the sad reactions of those around me to influence my faith-filled expectations concerning the truth of God’s Word working for me. I came to the realization that when I am in the company of the sad folks, that I have a responsibility to allow the love and peace of God to flow through me by my joyful expressions and confidence in Him. I do not deny the situation nor do I belittle the very real feelings they are dealing with, but what I do is to continually point to the answer with is found through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ… And that answer is what gives me the joy to go on in the midst of the rough patch we may find ourselves in.
The Sermon Bible Commentary says concerning Jesus’ words in John 15:11 that “In order to rejoice in the Lord, you must know the Lord not as you know a mere fact, but as you know a dear friend, a loving father. One who is the source of your life, the fountain of your good, the hope of your soul, the desire of your heart.” My Spirit directed prayer for the sad of heart and countenance is as Paul prayed in Ephesians 3:19 that they “will (intimately) know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge… (so that they) may be completely filled with God.” (God’s Word ©)
How well do you know Christ’s love? When you look in the mirror what do you see? Does your reflection display a happy countenance or a sad look? The Contemporary English Version tells us that Jesus “told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Are you happy? If not… then just maybe you need to spend some time to regain an intimate knowledge of the God-kind of love that Jesus has for you. Then you’ll have something to be joyful about… no matter what is going on around you or how others in the room may feel… or look! Have a joyfully great weekend! Stay in tune to and rejoice over His Word, and keep asking yourself… What or Whom am I expecting to be joyful about today?”