I don't know what this may mean for you or even for me today. Every once and a while, I find a theme emerge during my time reading the Bible in the morning. Currently I'm reading a Psalm and a Proverb every day, and in preparation for participating in a retreat, I'm also reading a chapter or two of Henri Nouwen's book The Return of the Prodigal Son. Today's theme appears to be JOY.
Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, "My foot is slipping,"
your love, O Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.
The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked some to nothing.
Gratitude, however, goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.~Nowen, p. 85
Because of who GOD is, joy can be the drumbeat of the life of the Christian. We begin by trusting Him, we continue trusting Him, we involve ourselves in the discipline of gratitude, and our hearts begin to change.
Our pastor in Cambridge was fond of saying, I'm not what I ought to be, but I'm not what I used to be either. The quotes above are convicting, because they remind me how often I let resentment and discontent rule my life, rather than joy. But the hope I find here is that God frees me, in Him, to choose joy and gives me myriad reasons to do so. The other glimmer of hope is knowing that I do choose joy more often than I used to. That is the Spirit at work in my heart. That is the Spirit at work in your heart. How marvelous that God takes our complaining, grumbling, whining hearts and transforms them, when we deserve to be left in our misery!
Interrupted by grace in the Word this morning and just had to share it with you.
JOY, my friends!
Perhaps you could leave a comment sharing how God is working joy into your heart these days? I'd love to hear about it.