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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Choosing Joy

Don't you love the excitement of a book? The story unfolds as quickly as your eyes skim the page. You are able to pause the story or speed up to the anticipated ending. Each chapter has its own theme, a life of its own, a new story that twists and turns your soul which ever way the author intends.... and you fall for it , no matter how many times the book has been read. You start each new chapter with eagerness of the unknown. "How will it end, how will it be redeemed, how will it all fit together?"

I often find myself talking with my very own personal Author, Jesus Christ. I'm that annoying book fanatic who's always asking the same questions with the utmost curiosity..."How will it end, how will it be redeemed, how will it all fit together?" I like to think its my right to know all the answers before I get to read the final chapter.... but alas, how boring would a book be if the dramatic ending was spoiled with in the first chapter?

Christ seems to be taking me through a new chapter..... I'd like to call it "Choosing Joy." In my morning devotions everything seems to be about joy. Ok, let me pause first and talk about the word, Joy. Don't you love the word? I do.... it seems joy bursts out of the word in its self. When I hear that word I just cant help but feel joy. I guess its like an onomatopoeia to me? You know, how the word zip almost sounds like the sound that an actual zipper makes when it, well, zips. Or like.... well, you get it, I'll spare you my thought process ;) So yes, the word, Joy just makes me feel joy.

This chapter isn't exactly the easiest but its just as important as any other because the Author wrote it before time. Like I said, my morning devotions have been surrounded by the idea of joy and challenging me to find joy in all circumstances, all the time, no exception. I've been trying to think of tangible ways to find joy in all circumstances, even the ones I don't feel are worthy of that simple, beautiful word, joy. And then it hit me one day...praising God. Giving him praise in all circumstances, allowing Him to be the reason for my joy, not joy (or lack of it) the reason for my attitude. Rearranging my thinking and striving to praise God in all circumstances and find joy in my praise for Him alone. Sometimes I don't feel like giving God praise when things don't seem to be going my way, but its not about me... I need to praise him despite that and allow joy to fill the void.

A few mornings ago I read this during my devotions: "Then came these thoughts: I was to ignore my feelings and act on principle. I was to do it despite the lack of joy-simply because God told me to. True praise grows out of recognition and acknowledgment that in His time God will bring good out of bad. I am to turn my back on the bad and face the good, and begin actively to praise God for it as Scripture commands. Following that, joy began spilling over into the tiny everydayness of my life." -Catherine Marshall (Author).

I've been trying, its not easy, but I've been trying to chose joy and praise God in ALL circumstances. I've been feeling another wave of "loneliness" begin to hit, not sure why, not sure of its purpose right now, but I'm trying to praise God for it and to find joy in this time.

This morning I decided to listen to a Podcast sermon, the only one that I had on my ipod was a sermon series by Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church..... can you guess what the sermon series is focusing on? No, seriously, take a guess....three letters. Yep, you got it right, Joy. :) Ha, I had to laugh... oh, and just wait, it gets even better! I found a specific sermon that seemed to by crying out, "Listen to me, oh oh oh, pick me, pick me!" It was called "A Rebel's Guide to Joy in Loneliness." I mean, really.... why would I pick a different one when that one had Kate Joyce written all over it? :) And of course, I was praising God for that sermon. Of course it talked about joy and it talked about loneliness but one of the things that Driscoll said in it allowed me to take a deep breathe. He said something along the lines of, "Have you thought, that maybe, perhaps, God is LEADING you through this time of loneliness because he wants you solely to Himself? To grow you, to mold you, to prune you, and to make you more like Him? He loves you THAT much that He is taking you through this time of loneliness, and THAT in itself might be the purpose." Wow. Ummm, I'll take that! :)

Its hard to believe that times like this, where I don't see an outward purpose or can't comprehend an answer to the "why's" of life, that God is choosing to shape me and mold me to be more like Him. I want to chose joy in this because of who He is, not because of what he has done or will do, but simply because of who He is.

I want to radiate that joy. I feel like that would be an honor to be able to bare witness to Christ through visible joy that I radiate out of praise because of who Christ is. I'm working on it... we'll see how long this chapter is... I tend to be a slow reader ;)


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