Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Reading My Own Words

Earlier today I was pretty bummed. The sad reality is that I am not very happy with my life right now. There are so many things I wish I could change about my life, starting with where I live (I hate the cold, snow, and ice) and what I am doing (I am not cut out for pastoral ministry).

As I was allowing myself to thinking depressing thoughts this afternoon one of the thoughts that went through my mind was: I just don’t have joy in my life (actually this was a funny thing to think since I have been pondering a post about the small joys of life). At the time I just couldn’t think of anything that brought joy to my life.

Earlier this evening I began to clean up some files on my computer and I found a pondering I originally wrote in the summer of 2005 (believe I have reposted it here, just not sure when), which dealt with joy. As I read it I was reminded that I am not joyless, I just allowed my discontentment to rob me of the joy I do have.

This is what I wrote three and half years ago:

Discovering Joy

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. ~ Galatians 5:22, 23; NLT

The Apostle Paul tells us that joy is one of the characteristics which make up the Christian’s life. The assumption we can make is that joy is something that God intends for us to experience in life. God does not desire that we go through life frustrated and grumpy. Joy should be one of the primary descriptions of our lives.

The pressures of this life often make joy one of the most elusive characteristics to have. We experience times of happiness and pleasure, but true joy eludes us. Part of the reason for that is because joy is not so much a feeling as it is a quality of life, and we have learned to settle for these momentary feelings rather than taking time to discover the joy God wants us to experience.

Joy, I believe, is discovered in our contentment of what we have in life. It flows from the knowledge that we are in exactly the right place. We can’t have joy when we allow ourselves to believe that the good life is just around the corner. When we are discontent with our lives we will not experience the joy we were designed to have. It is so easy to convince ourselves that the missing piece for joy in our lives will be found in the next relationship, with a new job, or having a nicer house. Rather than enjoying the blessings we have right now we focus on what seems to be missing from our lives which allows joy to elude us.

Joy is found in our contentment with life. It is the product of taking delight in our family and friends, as well as, any other blessings we have received. When we realize that the best of life is found in the love relationships we have, rather than in all the things we don’t have, joy will appear in our lives.

Not only does joy appear through our contentment, it is also found in our desire. Yes, that does sound contradictory, but it is not. Contentment is not the absence of desire, rather it is finding fulfillment in the way things are. Desire comes from the knowledge that things don’t stay the same. To stop desiring means a loss of joy in our lives.

Joy is found in the desire for things to come. It is the desire of the young lady content with her fiancé but who also longs for the wedding day. It is the desire of parents content with their baby but who also long to see her grow into a mature young woman. It is the desire of the Iowa Hawkeye fan content with the current state of the football program but who also longs for a National Championship. Hidden amongst our greatest desires is joy.

We were created to experience joy. It is one of the qualities God desires to see in our lives. As we learn to be content with our lives and to desire the right things joy will begin to show up and surprise us along this journey of life. There is joy in life and I hope you find it.

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