Finding Joy

by Rhonda, February 27, 2022

I sat in the airport, leaned back in my chair, and closed my eyes for a minute.  I'd just flown home from a week of working in Nashville.  Upon landing and checking my e-mails, I realized I had a deliverable that was urgent, so instead of driving home from the airport, I booted up the laptop and began to work.  It would be better to knock the work out now, rather than try to work after getting home.  My kids wouldn't handle it well after not seeing me for a week.  

But, before I began, I just needed to rest for a minute.

It was a rough week in Nashville.  Night of working until 10 p.m. at the office, followed by early mornings, were taking their toll.

I finished the deliverable, closed my laptop, and drove home.  I spent a few hours with my kids before I fell into bed and went to sleep.

Before I went to bed, I looked up at the ceiling.  "God, I don't feel like I enjoy my life anymore.  Please teach me how."

It was true.  As I thought back over my life, even without the current workload,  I'm not sure I could ever say I had mastered the art of truly enjoying my life.  So often, I felt as though I was just surviving until the next season.  I drifted off to sleep wondering how everyone else seemed to enjoy life so much, while the days felt so overwhelming to me.

The next morning, I received a text from my Bible study group.  We're working on a secret project for the upcoming retreat.  Can you please send us a photo off of your phone that brings you joy?

Timely.  I flipped through a few photos on my phone but found nothing suitable.  I knew it wasn't a problem with my photos, but a problem with me instead.  Perhaps I need a few days off, I thought, or maybe a spa day.  

As the Lord is always faithful, I shouldn't have been surprised when the message at church today was on - you guessed it - choosing life. 

Deuteronomy 30:19-20   This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

According to this verse, choosing life (and enjoying life) means three things:

1.  Loving the Lord

2.  Obeying His Voice

3.  Holding fast to Him

Loving the Lord.  In my mind, there's no doubt that I love the Lord.  However, love is often an action.  When I am loving the Lord with all my mind (action), my thoughts are on Him.  I'm in a place of a grateful heart.  I am not seeking man's approval, but only God's approval.  I am joyful over the little things He does for me, such as a beautiful sunset.  I spend time with Him.  I study His Word.  I am focused on His holiness.  My thoughts are no longer centered around me and my problems, but instead around Him and His faithfulness.  

We suffer much agony because we try to get from people what only God can give us, which is a sense of worth and value - Joyce Meyer

Obeying His Voice.  There is no peace in life without obedience to God.  If I am going to be obedient to God on the big things, I have to start on the small things.  For me in particular, He's made it clear I need to take more breaks throughout the day.  Go for a walk.  Spend my lunchtime with Him.  These are small things, but even disobedience in small things reaps repercussions.  When God asks us to be obedient to Him, it is rarely something we've already planned into our day.  Instead, we have to be open to hearing His voice and obeying it even when it isn't convenient.

Do we really want to be interrupted in the middle of our busy lives to see God, hear God, and pursue God?  Yes, Jesus we do. -  Lysa TerKeurst 

Holding fast to Him.  Holding fast to God means hanging onto the hand of the Lord when I don't know what's going on in life.  It also means that I don't let go when I get distracted, or tempted, by the world.  There's an overwhelming amount of distraction in our world today.  Simply scrolling through our phones will show numerous options from YouTube to social media to numerous text messages.  None of these things should ever replace the security we have in Christ.  Its His hand I want to hold fast to, no one else's. 

We must stay so intently focused on the King of kings that when distractions come, we are not moved.  For when our eyes are fixed on Him, we exalt Him, and others will be drawn to Him. - Beth Moore (Voices of the Faithful)  

Rather than a day at the spa, I needed a day at church.  I needed to get back to an attitude of gratitude, since joy is a function of thankfulness.  I needed to shift my eyes to the One who is the source of my joy, instead of trying to find joy on my own effort, in the midst of my problems.  

I decided to attempt to find a joyful photo again.  I found a photo of a sunset on my phone and I submitted it to our Bible study leader with the following note:  

I love a beautiful sunset.  God's creativity brings me such joy.

The photo was there all along, I simply had to change my perspective.

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