Friday, June 11, 2010

Joy, joy, sweet, elusive joy

Joy. It is what makes us stand out from the world around us.

Joy is always available to those indwelt by the Holy Spirit, which is why gloominess is a copout.

Joy and Christ-centeredness go hand-in-hand, so if we lack joy more often than we have it might the truth be that we aren’t Christ-centered? Surely, for some of us, it is. Even those of us going through a season of darkness can pursue joy, trusting that God designed us for it. Sooner or later, in Christ, we will find it. The trick for some of us is to change our self-oriented, worldly focus to Christ, and for others it is to take a fresh hold of God’s promises that no matter how dark life seems, he is going to push you out into the light.

These wise (and tough) words are from a small devotional entitled joy a godly woman’s adornment (the title is all lowercase) by Lydia Brownback. I haven’t read very far yet, but so far so worthy. I’m thinking that this is the type of book one needs to give away - and often.

And the title.

Isn’t the title wonderful. It even caught my husband’s eye.

Joy can seem to be so elusive, so easily stolen or lost. How I long to constantly be adorned with joy.

Adorned with it.

Clothed in it.

Crowned by it.

Filled with it.

Do not let your adorning be external...but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with imperishable beauty... -1 Peter 3:3-4

Moodiness, which comes upon me every so often, is my foe. I try to fight it but there are times when I seem to forget that I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

There have been times when I’ve thought that I’ve lost my “joy” (as though I own it or can produce it myself). I’ve complained about it. Valleys. But it is at such times (and many others) that my husband is so very good about taking me to task…one of the blessings (or not, depending on my mood) of being married to a godly man who is also a student and teacher of the Word.

A little more from the book…

No matter what we give up for the sake of Christ and knowing God better, joy is going to result. Initially, it might not seem that way. The man in the parable (Matthew 13:44) had to sell all he had in order to buy the field. The time of sale is usually where we are tempted to stop. We find the kingdom of heaven, but we don’t go all out to possess it fully and to let it possess us. We want Jesus but not necessarily costly discipleship. We want a kind heavenly Father, but not a disciplining one. We want our character bettered but not transformed. We want the benefits of Christianity without the cost, a price we must pay if we would go the whole way into the Christian life. … Fence-sitters can’t know the joy of the man in the parable. Holding back is a joy killer. … When we are facing death of self, the costliness of discipleship, we are likely to pull back unless we remember the promise we have been given about how it will all turn out. The man in Jesus’ parable wound up owning the field. And Jesus said that those who lose their lives - all the earthly things they lean on for happiness and security - will find what they have been looking for all along. God will see to that.-from Joy a godly woman’s adornment by Lydia Brownback

O Christ, All thy ways of mercy tend to and end in my delight. Thou didst weep, sorrow, suffer that I might rejoice. For my joy thou hast sent the Comforter, multiplied thy promises, shown me my future happiness, given me a living fountain. Thou are preparing joy for me and me for joy; I pray for joy, wait for joy, long for joy; give me more than I can hold, desire, or think of. Measure out to me my times and degrees of joy, at my work, business, duties. If I weep at night, give me joy in the morning. -from The Valley of Vision/Joy

Lord, adorn me in joy. Amen.

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