I've been praying for it specifically since January 2010. New year. New year resolution: Peace and Joy. January 2011. New year. Same Resolution: Peace and Joy. August 21, 2011. Peace? Joy? Access...Peace, yes, most of the time. Joy, no. I've been seeking, striving, and sad.
James: joy in trials. 1 Peter: joy in suffering. 1 Thessalonians: rejoice always.
I know this in my head, why don't I/can't I feel it in my heart!?!
I so often FEEL only the longing for what I KNOW to be true: The joy of my salvation, the joy of our hope in Christ, the calling: Be Joyful.
So, it was that Sunday afternoon in August as I sat with pen in hand to process with the LORD - when have I experienced joy, when and why did I lose it, how do I live it again?
Now for some of you theologians this may seem unorthodox, but at this stage of my maturity in Christ, this is my personal revelation.
I wrote out stages of my walk with Christ and accompanying emotions. I read old journals and summarized themes I read. And this was my conclusion:
At the point in which I "lost my joy" was an extremely busy, overwhelming, life-changing point in my life - new job, newly engaged, planning a wedding, and buying a house in 4 and a half months time; then trying to figure out how to live day in and day out with my sin rubbing against this other sinner (a.k.a. my husband) whom I have now "become one" with. I got overwhelmed with LIFE, it sucked the life from me, and I have not recovered.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, LORD! (Psalm 51:12a)
Being in relationship with others in order to point them to Jesus. (Believer of Nonbeliever)
This is what matters.
This is what is life giving.
~Life sucked the life out of me (and I have not recovered).
~Life is work, thus there needs to be joy IN work.
~Simplifying life makes room for joy (so life is not so overwhelming).
~Being in relationship with others in order to point them to Jesus is life-giving to me - this promotes joy!
This was revolutionary for me. Thank you, LORD, for how you speak to your sheep (John 10:4).
I have learned and believe that the WORK in the Garden of Eden was a GIFT from God to man. However, in the mundaneness of "homemaker" with the challenges of a husband with a chronic illness, I've struggled not to be dragged down and to truly live in joy. I have looked for joy in spite of the mundaneness and the challenges. Ah, but life IS work! My work IS a gift! Being a wife to the man God brought me to and being a mother to the children God entrusted to me and all the other details are working out just as our Sovereign LORD wants them for my good and His glory. The mundaneness and challenges that I have as a wife and mother are just what God wants for me to be sanctified as HIS Daughter reflecting the image of His SON! And THAT is what I am to choose to be joyful about in the midst of it all...not in spite of it!
Other recent connects that are promoting JOY for me in my new journey of joy:
http://www.aholyexperience.com (just poking around Ann Voskamp's website helps you slow down and focus on the joy and beauty in the mundane)
www.gitzengirl.blogspot.com (the blog "Choose Joy" whose young author was homebound with a chronic illness that took her life - wow - her Christ-focused devotion to joy in the midst of such pain and suffering is inspiring!)
Thank you, sisters in Christ!
Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!
LISTEN & LEARN:
"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5