Sunday, October 19, 2014

19 | Be Joyful

A weekend full of goodness is winding down slow and satisfied. Four days of play, away from work and school, is good for my family's collective soul. We have been taking a break from busy and bustling from here to there, from dividing and conquering and dividing again. 

When we are busy we have little time to breathe, connect, reflect, or respond in either our situations or our relationships.  Instead we react: with anxiety, frustration, disappointment, or dogged determination.

There is little room in the equation for the slower response of joy.

This weekend we practiced balancing the family equation.  We were deliberate in going slow and weighing choices.  We practiced being. And in so doing, we found ourselves finding joy in the negotiations and compromises and giggles of our collective love. 

Note that word choice: finding joy. It takes some searching, some choosing to work for joy.  And see where we discovered it: not in the squealing bliss of alpine slides or the scrumptious delight of ice cream treats. Our joy this weekend was sandwiched between layers of negotiations and compromises, squabbles and stern looks, whining and chastising.  Layers of work, along with layers of pleasure. It's not easy to be a parent. It can be difficult to be a kid. It's tiring to pack and travel and fill up on fun. But in the gluey, sticky love that binds us together, we choose joy; we find joy. 

Joy is not an accidental, fleeting happy moment. It's that carved out space of cherishing gifts and recognizing all their funky angles and sharp corners, and loving them all the more for that. 

Today we are going to create a place to be still, to carve out some space to choose joy. 

Sit cozily. Breathe slowly. Pray earnestly with me. 


You have paved the way to joy with your love. Thank you for your clear direction: when I love you — and when I love others as I love you and myself — I will love my way into your joy. I will love my way into completeness. Fullness. JoyFULLness. 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:9-11

Help me to live out your command to love. I rely on your help and your grace to make my joy complete. Show me how to slow out of the rush, making it possible to rest and remain in your love, to radiate and reflect your love, even when this world tugs me in the opposite direction.

Remind me that joy dwells in the simple and the misunderstood moments, as well as the pleasing moments.  You have a plan that is bigger and brighter than all the daily details. Hiccups in the here and now will work out in the long run. 

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life; the quiet confidence that ultimately everything will be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” 
Kay Warren

Lord, your goodness is never far from me.  Just as you made the heavens, you made so much beauty here on earth. But you weren't content with merely creating beautiful scenery and creatures in this world.  You continually imbue us with your love, you eternally invite us into your joy.  And you never stop inspiring love in our relationships with our families, friends, and neighbors.

...the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.   1 Chronicles 16:26-27
Lord, there are times when joy eludes me. Help me to keep my faith strong and my focus on you in these times. Remind me of Paul and Barnabas and the disciples, shaking off the frustration and pain of persecution, finding joy in spreading your word and your love. I pray that when I run low on joy your Holy Spirit will fill me and complete me and replenish my joyful reserves. 
But the Jewish leaders... stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas. So they shook the dust off their feet... And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.  Acts 13:50-52
When I can't find the joy in a particular moment, a particular day, show me your long range plan. Remind me that you have wonderful joy in store for me up ahead. Help me to truly trust in your promise to grant me lasting, soul-filling happiness and to make my joy complete. Help me to keep choosing joy as a natural extension of my faith in you.


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