Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Joy and Strength

Joy And Strength

I made one of those life-changing discoveries a few years ago.  Actually, it was a slow realization over a period of a few years.

I finally connected “joy” with “strength.”  I was singing with the Lifeword Trio at the time of my first realization.  We sang “The joy of the Lord is my strength” from Nehemiah 8:10:  “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Seemed like a nice sentiment.  We sang it loud.  We sang if often.  We sang it with big smiles on our faces.  It was a fun song . . . a crowd pleaser. 

Slowly, the words grew into a meaningful message.  I began to realize a connection between being joyful, and having strength.  It was true!  Joyful people have more stamina, more endurance, more strength!

My family has always struggled with depression, as well as anger.  Both of these are joy-robbers and strength-sappers.  Watch a sad person!  They will sit whenever they have a chance, they need extra sleep and they are always complaining about being tired.  That’s because they are sad . . . or angry, and those emotions literally suck the life out of us.  It takes so much energy to feel sadness and anger.  But joy?  Joy PRODUCES energy!

I don’t know about you, but I need the extra energy that joy brings!  Now, I pray for it.  I look for ways to encourage myself . . . music (the good stuff), gratitude, words . . . I will even make myself smile!  Sometimes a forced smile will kick-start a new attitude.  Here are a couple of ideas that work for me:
  • I start each morning with God.  I have to get up a little earlier, but it’s sooooo worth it!  First we walk and talk (good exercise, too!) and then I meet Him at my desk with Bible and prayer.
  • I keep a gratitude journal every night.  I write at least one thank-you to God before I go to bed.  It also keeps me focused on gratitude during the day.  (“Hey!  I could write that in my journal tonight!”)
  • I play my piano.  And I sing.  Sooooo thankful for all those piano lessons & voice lessons!  Soooo glad I did my practice!
  • I laugh more frequently.  In fact, I look for opportunities to laugh!  Comedy is everywhere.

Once you start, you will find even more attitude-adjusters.  Stay close to God.  Talk to Him constantly.  Ask Him for joy . . . to show you joy and to give you joy.  And then, share the joy . . . cause someone else is feeling mighty tired, too!

(“Joy and Strength”  written June 19, 2013)

Friday, July 26, 2013

That's Where The Joy Comes From

Joy is illusive.  Happiness is pretty common.  But joy?  Not so much.

A gooey brownie with pecans makes me happy.  Cool weather for my early morning walk makes me happy.  And shopping at Hobby Lobby?  Happy, happy, happy.

Doesn’t take much to un-do happiness.  A sore throat.  Dishes left on the counter.  Paying for a tank of gasoline.  Even an inconvenient parking space at Walmart.  And poof!  There goes my happiness. 

Happiness is temporary.  As long as things go my way, I’m happy.  But once I lose control, happiness takes a flying leap! 

Joy, however, is a different creature.  It’s an “always”  kind-of-thing.  Joy doesn’t depend on circumstances.  Doesn’t need control.  Doesn’t need kindness.  Doesn’t need gadgets and “things.”  Doesn’t even need a vacation!

Joy survives anything.  It lives in the midst of poverty.  It lives in hospitals.  It will survive any natural disaster and can even be found at funerals.  A hearty thing . . . this “joy!”

But it is illusive.  You can’t find joy in a thing.  You can’t find joy in a person.  Joy comes from God. 

Says who?  Well, David, for one.  Psalm 16:11:  “In thy presence is fullness of joy.”  Full joy.  Where? With God.

Solomon . . . the wisest man ever . . . said so, too.  Ecclesiastes 2:26:  “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge and . . . (ta-da!) joy.”  See?  There it is again.  God. Gives. Joy.

Once we figure out that God is the source of joy, we have two choices:  Either we pursue God, or else, we reject God . . . because we are stubborn.  Too stubborn for God.  Too stubborn to change.  To stubborn let go.  “I did it MY way” . . . forever our mantra.

And where does stubbornness originate?  Doesn’t take long to figure that one out.  Stubbornness is a by-product of pride.  A LOT of pride. 

So, Step One:  Settle the pride issue.  Who’s in control?  Are you SURE you want to be in charge of your life?  How’s that working out for you? 

Your Creator has a better plan.  (Just sayin’.)

(written June 18, 2013)