Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Grocery List

I came across a piece of paper today in my bible. It was a grocery list and I almost threw it out. Then I noticed all this writing on the back, and I recalled why it was in my bible. I had written down a "revelation" that I had about joy during a time that I felt anything but. I remember driving home from work and trying to overcome this feeling I had---among other emotions, it was a jumble of sadness, frustration, hopelessness and a dash of anger. At the time I think I felt stuck in a hopeless situation, like, "Is this all there is?"

I desired joy, but it was far from me, and that made me even more sad! It was right there in my car that I had this revelation about joy.This is what I wrote on the back of that grocery list:

Having joy in my life isn't about finding it, discovering it; it's about creating it, choosing to be joyful and joyous despite that which is anything but. It's about looking to the Joy-giver and deciding that where He is, I will be also. It cannot be done by sheer will, but only in surrendering what I think will give me joy.

I remember this day very distinctly. What was so memorable was that while I was still driving---stuck in a traffic jam due to a detour, by the way---the frustration, the hopelessness, the sadness...oh the sadness, the anger and every other emotion that was in that mix lifted! I remember laughing-yes, laughing, because it seemed so crazy! I laughed and I praised Him. I remember pulling in to the parking lot of the grocery store feeling a renewed sense of wonder and awe of the Joy-giver, the tears of sadness being turned into tears of joy! Suddenly, that situation I felt stuck in seemed tolerable and I have to say, I'm still in that situation and I am content and full of joy! I can even say that God turned it around so much that it is no longer anything close to what it was. It's a situation that I actually enjoy now.

Joy is a choice. It cannot be discovered, like America was. We can go on a quest to find it, but we'd be wasting our time. It's right there for the taking. It's a daily offering---manna ("what is it???"). It's not to be confused with happiness. There are a lot of "happy" people in the world who are miserable! Conversely, you can be unhappy, but full of joy. That is what confounds the world! In trying to find scripture verses on joy to intersperse here, I was overwhelmed. In my bible's concordance, there are over 200 verses on joy! If you need some joy right now, look no further than your concordance!

It is only in surrendering our will, our desires--what we think we want---and following Jesus, that we find true joy. Because wherever He is, there will be our joy. Instead of looking at our circumstances, we must look to Him. Instead of praying through our circumstance to Jesus, we must pray through Jesus about our circumstance. Put Him at the center. Trust Him. When it doesn't make sense, when it seems hopeless, when we are sad, when we are angry, when we are frustrated, when we are disappointed, when we are disheartened, when we feel stuck, when we want to throw up our hands and say, "Is this all there is?"----that's when we must throw up our hands in surrender and say, "I don't know how, but I know that You can give me joy right now! Please, Jesus, take all of this and make beauty out of ashes. And He will. Because His is the Joy-giver and He desires to give us good gifts!

If you're in a situation right now that is causing you to say, "Is this all there is?" ask Jesus to give you a personal revelation. Ask Him to give you joy in the midst of the pain. Just be careful when you write and drive!

Blessings Along the Path,

Song of the Day:
Lay Me Down (Matt Redman & Chris Tomlin)

and to make you laugh...this video is all of 18 seconds
The Dance of Joy (Perfect Strangers)

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