Monday, May 25, 2015
reclaiming joy - as we remember
It's a feeling usually associated with dancing round a maypole with a Wigglesesque grin on your face but a feeling I am certain is possible to feel with tears pouring down your face.*
I've been thinking about joy lately.
I've had a number of conversations with people who feel robbed of their joy.
As Christians they know they are safe and secure in the love of God and it's not like they're doubting, they're just not feeling the joy. They feel stuck in the doldrums of following life. Plodding along like elephants holding the tail of the one in front.
I feel this way too sometimes.
It's easy to get stuck in the "doing" and forget the immense joy that the gospel brings.
But this joy doesn't necessarily bring hand waving and manic behaviour. (Though I guess it probably could?) It goes much deeper than that.
It's the wind beneath your sails, the wings that cover over, the intense peace, the hope of a world to come.
It pushes you through the hard times and turns your face heavenward in the good.
It comforts you when you weep and gives you a beat to dance to when you feel on top of the world.
It is joy.
And it comes from God.
But how can we really FEEL it?
How can we reclaim the joy that according to Galatians 6 comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
Well like the small offering of pumpkins and strawberries we have grown in our garden over the summer it takes tending and watering and cultivating.
So to cultivate joy I need to sit and think happy thoughts? Or pull my cheeks back so I'm always smiling? Well...no.
I'm going to write four posts about cultivating and reclaiming the joy that comes with knowing Jesus.
As We Remember
As We Are Thankful
As We See Lives Saved
At The Foot of the Cross
So, As We Remember.
I love the Old Testament.
It's the biggest section of the bible, spans over a huge ammount of time, covers many different literary genres and has some really sticky controversial passages.
But what I love about it is that it contains one bigger story that flows right through the Old and is completed in the New Testament.
It's the story of God and his glory.
How he made the earth and all that is in it. How he made people and never ever ever stopped loving them. Despite the ways they shoved all his creation and love back into his face.
He never ever ever stopped loving them.
As I sit and read the pages of the Old Testament and read each story as a small part of a much bigger narrative I am filled with joy.
I squirm along with the best of them at the scary passages about war and conquest but on the flipside I see a God giving people over to their desire to live away from him.
I see the destruction of the flood that Noah survuived but also see the sadness in the eyes of the God who was grieved to have made us.
I gloss over books where great detail is taken to write down just how many golden bowls belong in the temple and just how many days is good to lie down after having a baby but on the flipside I see a God so holy that even his name could not be spoken.
And this God, this holy revered, powerful, grieved God, in order to be made more glorious, made himself nothing so that we could know him.
What joy. What deep abounding joy.
We must remember what he has done. Just after God brought his people up out of slavery in Egypt he gave them his law, his way to live, and told them not to forget.
He tells his people to pass Gods laws down to their children to talk about them and to write them up for all to see. As we remember what God has done even before we were born, even before Jesus was born we are filled with joy at the power and glory of this eternal God.
So get into it! Get into the Old Testament and see what God has done. See the way he has loved his people. See how his love challenged them sometimes quite brutally but that his love never ended.
And indeed it did not end with the Old Testament. I'm going to talk about the New Testament in another post but lets skip ahead a few years. In the many many years since Jesus there have been Christian men and women who went before us. Their lives at times amaze us with the depth of their faith but even more amaze us with the depth of Gods love for them.
His love extends to the ends of the earth.
I feel a great sense of joy thinking of all the people who have gone before. The ones we have heard about like Martin Luther and John Calvin, like Billy Graham and Mother Theresa and the multitudes who never became well known in this world but who were and are so precious to God.
When we remember what God has done through the ages from the begining of time. When we remember who he is and reflect on his glory.
There, we find joy.
*I heard this description at a womens conference about 10 years ago and it has stuck with me.