What happened to your joy?
Have you ever asked yourself this question?
Like a puff of smoke joy seems to escape sometimes. Oh, I’m sure it’s more of a gradual exit than that, but it feels as if suddenly you look up and the walls are crumbling around you.
It could be triggered by an event…death, divorce, job loss, sickness. Maybe something less traumatic invaded your space like the invitation you didn’t get, the clothes that didn’t fit or the comparison trap that swallowed you whole.
Paul actually introduced this question in his letter to the churches of Galatia.
What has happened to your joy? Galatians 4:15
or in the NLT:
Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? Galatians 4:15 NLT
‘Then’ refers to the time when the Galatians heard the good news. The news that they were now included in what was once an exclusive club, now a part of Christ’s family. They were free from the chains of sin, welcome into relationship with Christ. I can only imagine Paul got to see these people on their mountain top high that so often occurs when we have a deep revelation from God. He saw them on fire, full of joy for the Lord.
What happened to the Galatians has happened to me and perhaps you as well. The world stepped in and tried to boss them around. People dangle bright shiny things in their path and they chased them like a cat. They became slaves again to the ways of the world. Believing lies and following self. Joy didn’t leave them as much as they walked away from it.
So…”how do I get joy back?” I ask.
I’ve chewed on that question a while now and the same answer keeps coming over me. Go back to where you started. And I know exactly what God is telling me.
Sure I pray, read my bible or do some type of bible study almost every day, but nothing compares to the date God and I have when I am physically using the gifts he gave me. When I paint furniture or get knee deep in a craft project, God meets me there. It’s where we talk, spend time together and the world falls away. Two years ago I discovered this fertile meeting ground. It’s when I fully recognized my gifts came from the Lord and I decided to acknowledge him in them. I have let that precious time and revelation slip, gradually. I allowed my to-do list outweighing my alone time. Slowly walking away from joy.
This scenario is not unique to me. If we look at the disciple Peter in John 21:3 we get a glimpse of the same answer God has given me. At this point in time, Jesus had already been crucified, risen and shown himself to his disciples twice. The third visit is the one that gets my attention. Peter was obviously distraught at losing his friend and teacher, he had just come off the road trip of a lifetime with Jesus and then watched him die. Now what? What was to be the next step? You know Peter’s joy was waning at the very least. Don’t you think the confusion surrounding Jesus’ death hung thick in the air? Threatening to close in on all that Peter knew to be true and label it as lies? And this is what Peter says…
Jesus found Peter in a boat and he returned to him in boat. Fishing is what Peter was wired to do. Each time Peter’s oars slapped the water they pushed him away from the confusion, away from other’s opinion, away from lies and deceit. For me each coarse grind of sandpaper and every brush stroke brings me closer to the feet of Jesus. I can feel him come to me and say, “Here’s your joy, I’m right here. I never left.”
Our God is immeasurably kind, filling each one of us with individual gifts and talents that allow us to enjoy our life on Earth and serve him at the same time. Whether you paint, cook, sew, run, write, read, take pictures, decorate, dress cute, teach, craft or create God wants you back in your boat. Today. He is saying come away with me and get some rest. Escape the eyes and words of others and focus on your joy, on me. Sometimes we need a physical place of solace for a mental place of rest.
Where did you first encounter Jesus in a meaningful way? What has changed or escaped since then that you can go back to? What can you do today to spend quality time alone with God? Work on an abandoned project, start a new one, sign up for that class you never get around to? Commit your time to the Lord and he will meet you there. And the answer to the tough question of “what happened to your joy?” will slowly find it’s answer.
I love you friends, now go back to where you started.
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