Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Joy

Have you ever had one of those a-ha moments? A moment where the murky and seemingly unobtainable becomes plain?

I had one the other morning in church. Our pastor was wrapping up a series on Philippians. It has been a really great series and I have learned a lot, but something he said this week resonated within my soul and caused it to sing.

"Joy is not a set of circumstances, it is not a choice, it is a Fruit of the Spirit."


What?


I have always known that it is part of "the Fruit" but I've always seen it as something that I have to do. Not something that is done in me.

I think it comes out of the Baptist tradition in which I was raised. While we understand that God's redemptive work is a gift and not something we earn I think deep down we are still a little suspicious of that. We receive the gift and then work as hard as we can to please God. Not that working and growing isn't good, it is, but sometimes the Holy Spirit gets shuffled aside and left for the Pentecostals.

I realized at that moment that sometimes I will not be able to "choose joy." I couldn't during our season of loss, I don't have the strength after a full day with cranky, strong-willed children and sometimes I plain just don't want to.

But as I abide in Christ and allow his Spirit to change me, I will have joy. It is not the buck-up-and-grin substitute I often try to manufacture but rather a state of contentment even when the tears are flowing and my heart is breaking.


A-ha.


Amen.

6 comments:

Sherri E. said...

I grew up in the Baptist tradition, and my experience was very similar to yours. For a theological tradition that teaches so much about grace, it sure left me thinking I had to do an awful lot to earn God's approval.

Bargainista said...

Thanks for the good A.M. 'devotional'.
Funny, but i was just talking w. my husband about similar thoughts last night.

Dawn and Dale said...

Awesome stuff!!! :) Thanks for sharing!!!

Jessica said...

Good stuff! Yep, it's hard to accept that we don't have to work for God's love and acceptance, but once we do....Ahhhh.. the freedom!

Janet said...

Ohhh...that was so good. It's a fruit of the Spirit. A HA!!!!!! I love, love, love that!!!! Thanks!

granola_granny said...

I have had the privilege of experiencing two similar but different theological traditions, and have come to realize that joy is an outlook on life and not a smile on my face. Oddly enough our sermon today was an execellent one on the "Joy of the Lord is my Strength". Something said certainly caught my attention... it was... 'What people want today is happiness, and in searching for it they miss out on joy'. I think you're on the right track HG.