This is a picture of one of my grandsons. I love his smile and how he always gives me big hugs. I mourn the day he “grows up” and stops. I pray he never stops hugging grandma. I don’t think he understands how awesome a gift it is or how his simple hug warms my heart and fills me with joy.
God has blessed me with four amazing grandsons and six equally amazing granddaughters. They bring me joy every day. As do my wonderful grown children. I am blessed. Thank you Lord!
Joy has been on my heart this morning. Probably because I haven’t been feeling particularly joyful lately. I’ve been in a funk of not wanting to go anywhere, do anything, dissatisfied with everything and everyone – mostly myself. I don’t like it when I slip into these dull long stretches of discontent.
I am not even sure why I am feeling this way. Perhaps it is because, my journey is taking me through a long desert of waiting. It’s hard to wait. Hard to be still. Harder still to Let God be God. I find my heart filled with anxious longing. I long to be like Jesus – NOW. Too often, I’m not. Far from it. So I’ve slipped into this petulant childish pout and clothed myself with gloom. Things aren’t going like I want them to. People don’t behave the way I want them to. Pride is so ugly, yet here it is in my face again, stealing my joy.
Joy begins with love and ends in love.
True joy. Not the joy I feel when I get what I want when I open a gift. No, I mean the joy that bubbles up deep inside in spite of the dark circumstances around me. Joy that overflows into song, and heart felt smiles. Where there is no fear, no condemnation and no worry. JOY! Sweet wonderful awe inspiring joy.
Joy begins with love. Not the kind of love I am most familiar with. The love with strings attached that I create or are created by those that “love” me. I’ll love you as long as… If you hurt me, then you don’t love me… Strings. Conditions. Shame. Guilt. This is NOT love – or at least not the love that Jesus demonstrated and the love that God is. I’m talking about the unconditional love that does not judge and keeps no record of wrong. Love that is quick to forgive and lay aside all blame and guilt. Love that is eager to offer compassion and mercy and never judges. Love that demands a sacrifice on my part and nothing from the one I am to love. The Love that God offers me every single moment of every single day.
When I truly embrace that I am loved this way, all fear and shame and guilt disappear. For PERFECT LOVE casts out fear. And where there is no fear there is only JOY! Warm, sunny delightful joy. Joy like a baby’s laugh or watching a gorilla dance in the water with complete abandon and joy. (See link at bottom of this page).
I want that kind of Joy – but to have that Joy it means I need to love as I am loved. Joy begins in love – and ENDS IN LOVE. It is a process – a cross – a journey. Loving is something I need to practice every day. Sometimes I am willing. Other times I am not. I am grateful that God loves me unconditionally and knows I am weak. Each moment I have the opportunity to say “YES” to His love (His way of loving) and “NO” to my selfish ugly old ways.
For I am a NEW CREATION! Yes, New! The old has passed, and the new has come. Sometimes I slip into my old self, and have to be re-awakened and change my perspective. The fact is the Kingdom of Heaven is here in my midst – in my heart. And His name is Jesus. He will teach me and instruct me in the way that I should go. He will counsel me and watch over me with His loving eye. (Psalm 32).
I know that I am a new creation, formed in the image of Christ and this very moment I have the opportunity to live it out by loving others and myself. Amazing Grace! Amazing Joy!
Joy begins with love and ends with love. There is Joy in the knowledge (the FACT) that my Father in Heaven loves me completely without reservation. He lavishes His love on me. Joy grows as I learn to truly love and forgive myself so that I may love others. Joy begins with Gods love, and ends in my loving others in the same way He loves me. Unconditionally. Completely. Lavishly. JOYFULLY.
Here is the link to a YouTube video of a gorilla in the swimming pool. I want to dance like this before the Lord! With utter abandon and joy. Want to join me? Come on in! The water is fine. 🙂
Blessings my friends.