Monday, November 7, 2011

Authentic Joy

Tucked between the glory of fall and the wonder of winter is a tiny season of drab. The leaves, spent of their splendor, cling to the trees by mere threads in hope of leftover life, but droop pathetic in the inevitable.  The branches, stripped bare of their clutter, appear ghastly against an overcast sky.

But today I have joy.  Sheer joy.  The reason?
I've been refreshed in the Lord.

When all is stripped away I am left with the joy of the Lord as my strength.  It is sufficient.  It is enough.  Not that I want all to be stripped away.  Far from it! But sometimes in the glory of a season I forget where my true joy lies.  Not in friendships, retreats, things, or events, but in the Lord.  However, when I look to these wonderful gifts He has given to sustain my joy they become, in fact,

                                         . . . . .dare I say it?


Spiritual downfall does not happen in one instance, but rather in the accumulation of small choices made within the day . . . the week . . . the month, producing a way of life.

It's a slow fade, when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade, when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid,
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade . . .
by Casting Crowns

God has placed before me an offer of contented rest, His awesome presence each day.  He is eager to pour out His grace in my life and fill me with His joy.  May it never be said of me, "you missed it!" because of small choices I made to turn away from Living Life.

Idolatry defines my culture, but I cannot excuse loss of devotion on the world. No, it is my own desire carried away like a leaf on the wind which descends into puddles of apathy . . . idolatry, for "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  (Matt. 6:21)

Where is my heart?  Lost on 7th street?  Deadlines?  Successes of my children?  Image?  Status?  The formidable screen?  I must find my heart, for there I will also find my loves. . . treasure.

Idolatry, the thief which seeks to steal priceless joy from my life . . . sneaks around as pirates in stealth modes of neglect, default, and small choices. But I can hear the creak in the floor behind me, and I'd best attend to its warning or be crumpled.  "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."  
(Acts 3:19)

Falling away . . .
            provoking the Lord to anger . . .
                            distancing myself from the Lord . . .
                                                           May it never be so!

Yet, we want His stuff, His blessings, His guidance, His smile.
This is craziness.  God will not be mocked.
". . . for who is he who will devote himself to be close to Me?  
declares the Lord."  
(Jer. 30:21) 
Can it be said of us that we are devoted to being close to the Lord?  In this drizzly season of rain and overcast skies, before the snowflake's gentle caresses, we can still find a place of delight . . . joy settles deep within the heart as we return to the God of all mercy and grace.  Because for those "who revere [His] name, the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in its wings . . . "  

And after the healing, ". . . you will go out 
and leap like calves released from the stall."  (Mal.4:2)

I have witnessed first hand "calves released from the stall",
and it is, indeed, joy . . . sheer joy!

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