Here’s another one from Lee. Get yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, and read this. Don’t hurry through it…absorb it into your mind and heart. Your day will go better if you do!-anita
I recently wrote an article for this blog in which I rued the lowly state of morality in this country and in the world. I noted the fact that it makes me sad to see large numbers of people turning their back on God and His truths to live by their own morality. A morality based on relativism; there are no absolute truths.
Fortunately, we (I) don’t have to stay in this saddened state and chant “woe is me.” As I’ve often said (but have some difficulty applying in my daily life), we Christians, of all people, should be filled with joy. As my dad would have said, “You ain’t just bumpin’ your gums there, boy.” Translated into everyday parlance, that simply means “absolutely!”
It’s important to me that I reach out and read/listen to new sources of information regularly to ensure that I don’t get bogged down in just my own limited thoughts/thinking. Such was the case today when I read an article on Christian joy, which reminded me of what I already know but so easily forget: According to Burk Parsons, editor of Tabletalk magazine, “Christianity is a religion of joy.”
Back to the point I made above about getting mired in our own thoughts and data and needing to be stimulated by thinking from sources outside ourselves, Parsons says, “Joy comes from God, not from within. When we look [only] within, we just get sad.” He says further, “Without Christ, joy is not only hard to find, it’s impossible to find.”
I’m a pretty down-to-earth, practical person and I do feel sad at some things, as I’ve already said. So my soul resounded in total agreement when I read Parsons’ next thought: “Real joy exists even amid real sadness, and real joy doesn’t always mean there’s a smile on our faces.” That’s important to me because it’s hard not to feel sad when there’s a child hurting (yours or someone else’s), for example.
Joy sometimes comes to me in mysterious ways. Consider this. I’m a sinner and I know it. I say/do things which I’m sure sadden God. Some things I do are so premeditated that I disgust myself and recoil in shock that I could conduct myself in that way. When I go to God in prayer and ask His forgiveness I’m usually feeling a ton of guilt. There was a reference to Psalm 32 in today’s Our Daily Bread that applies here quite well. Verses 3 and 4 kind of nail it for me and well describe my feelings as I approach God. “When I kept silent about my sin…Thy hand was heavy upon me.” That’s exactly how I feel as I drag along the weight of the guilt I feel, especially when I’ve sinned so blatantly. And I need to go to Him. And when I do, I can’t tell you the relief I feel; the onerous, ponderous guilt that’s lifted. How joyous I am that I feel cleansed and right with Him again. Parsons quotes the great preacher Charles Spurgeon: “I do not know when I’m more perfectly happy than when I am weeping for sin at the foot of the cross.”
Ultimately, I suppose, we should be saddened about the misery around us. People are hurting at every turn and at least some of that misery is self-imposed as those same people refuse to look to the One who can relieve that pain. But always keep in mind there are many, many reasons for joy, too. Look at God’s beautiful artistry all around us. Look at the love in the lives of your family (those awesome grandkids, for example), your spouse, your brothers/sisters in the family of God.
And be sure to look heavenward. Parsons quotes another wonderful man of God, C.S. Lewis, whose insights are always “out of this world.” Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Parsons wraps this up with a statement that needs to be a watchword for our daily living: “…the greatest joy in this life is to know that our greatest joy is not in this life but in the one to come.” I want to filter every experience I have today through that thought. Try it.