Joy Joy Joy!
Not one time...not two times...but five times this week God has been chasing me down with JOY! Even in my dreams God reveals joy to me. As I'm driving on the road, He reminds me of joy. As I go about my mundane tasks, joy is the theme. It is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a divine Gift from my creator. It is accessible, conceivable, and permissible. It is real! It is true! It is right!
Why all of a sudden does God want me to have joy? Well, quite honestly, I was not raised to experience joy often. I endured harsh criticism, abandonment and rejection from each of my parents. I could not make the connection of a God that was loving to the same God that was just. It was either He was a harsh, cruel and distant or He was loving, merciful and near. The attributes of God's righteousness and His goodness could not co-exist because in my world I had only known the former.
But what about joy? Where does this fit in to God's plan for my life? Did it mean I have to be "happy'? Does happiness = joyfulness? Do my circumstances dictate whether I could in fact experience joy? Certainly this seemed too fickle.
First, I had to come to the realization that God was not mad at me. When I sin, He is waiting with open arms to receive me back to him. He wants me to confess, repent and be forgiven of sin. He will never say "I told you so!" or continually bring up past iniquities. His Word is true and it says "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2
Secondly, I had to come to the realization that God wanted good things for my life. He wanted to fill me with faith, hope, joy and peace in the midst of any circumstance. "May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope." Romans 15:13 (Amplified)
Lastly, I had to come to the realization that I was powerless without Him and I needed His joy to be my strength. Apart from God we can do nothing. Apart from knowing and obeying His perfect Word, His Spirit indwelling me, and my ultimate surrender to His sovereign will, I cannot truly experience joy. "Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
I am excited to see how God is going to show up in my life and completely amaze me with shamelessly radiant joy! I pray He does the same for you!
"I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my (anxious) fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." Psalm 34: 4-5