Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I’ve got the…Joy…Joy…Joy…Joy….Where?

Down in my heart…down in my heart…to stay!

But, I’m not so very happy….I’m not so very happy…so what’s the matter with me?

Where is that joy? I remember something about it being down in my heart. Well, I guess we ought to go check down there. Want to come with me? Follow me down the stairs here to the door…squeak…haven’t been in here in a while, you’ll have to excuse the cobwebs and mess. Hmmm…I can’t see in here – it’s pretty dark, could you hand me a light? Oh my, I can’t get past all these piles of things, we’ll have to move a few things to see if we can find that joy anywhere. Here, will you hang onto this pride, so I can shift this box of…what is this? Wow – suppressed dreams – I forgot all about those! Haven’t got time for that though, what’s this right next to it? A bunch of tapes – oh yeah, those tapes of all my mistakes and sins…got to keep those around. Something stinks back here…Oh, I don’t know if I can take the smell…Oh where, oh where are you joy?

Eek, something is wrapping itself around my leg! Give me the flashlight quick! It’s, it’s anxiety! Phew, that was close. Eww, there’s the source of the stench – a pile of selfishness. Oh, that is disgusting, I have to get out of here quick. This place is just too much of a mess for me, wait a minute. What’s that sparkling in the back there? Hey – it’s my joy! It looks like someone has been chewing on the corners and it’s covered in dust, but it’s here! AAACKK! A mouse! A mouse! Run! We’ll have to come back for that joy another time!

I don’t know about you, but joy can seem elusive at times. I believe the truth in the song of my childhood – Joy is deep down in my heart; but sometimes it’s hard to find it there. What are the true sources of joy?

J – Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus’ life shows us how to have joy – by focusing on eternal glory. He is our joy.

O – Obedience and Optimism. When we clean out our hearts, the joy can shine in there, but when the heart is cluttered with sin, joy will remain hidden. Joy is a command (Philippians 4:4) and we are promised joy when we live in obedience to God’s will. Joy is also a result of keeping our focus on the positive; that sounds like humanistic teaching, but it’s actually scriptural. Paul urges us to think upon 8 virtues in Philippians 4:8 which refocus our attention on all that is godly and I call that Christian optimism.

Y – Yes, Lord. I’m reminded of a favorite worship song by Darrell Evans: “I’m trading my sorrows; I’m trading my shame…I’m trading my sickness; I’m trading my pain; I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” The chorus repeats the phrase “Yes, Lord” over and over again but I only recently understood that this song is about surrender. God doesn’t always promise to remove sorrow or pain but when we surrender to His will, He promises joy. My pride and grumbling often cloud joy in my life, how about you?

Maybe it’s time to get back in that heart and do a little cleaning out so the joy can shine forth again!

Visit Vicki at Windows to My Soul for more thoughts on Joy this week.