What does Joy look, sound and feel like? It’s not simply putting on a smile and singing happy songs. I can do that and still be depressed or bitter about one thing or another. Does happiness equal joy? I wrestled with this thought for awhile. I know that Joy is our strength, but does that mean we simply grin though trails? Whether that be temptation or painful circumstances. For Joy to get us through something, it has to be something tangible that we can hold onto. A strong point that we can tie off to when the winds and the waves come crashing in. The essence of Joy beyond the feeling of elation it is an unshakable trust. Trust is the backbone of Joy. Being able to rejoice in what is not seen. Everything we do and say stems from this core. What the enemy does is attack it with fear and doubt. Getting us out of alignment. When we are out of alignment we respond from a misaligned place. We respond through pain and not through Joy. We have to get ourselves back into alignment. Fear says you can’t and doubt says it wouldn’t matter if you did. The truth is you can and it matters that you do. Joy is not birthed from a the result of an action. Joy comes from being able to do what God is asking no matter the outcome. Not putting our faith in the outcome, but in the God who controls the outcome. Joy is knowing that you are delighted in no matter if you fail or not. Joy is a little boy walking up to a tee with the strut of a MLB player. He is not confident in his stats, he has none because he’s eight. His confidence is in his father that is sitting in the stands. He knows that no matter if he hits it out of the park or fouls it, his father is cheering him on. His dad is not delighted that his son performs well, but simply because he is on the field and he is his son. We put so much confidence in our performance that when we fail we think God is disappointed. We hide behind our stats, when they go down we think His delight in us goes down as well. Eventually it will take us out. We won’t even want to play anymore.
Often we try to avoid the juggling act. We want to keep everything up in the air and balanced. But we miss understand juggling. It’s not an act of keeping things in the air, but throwing things up and letting them fall. It’s the rise and the fall that gives the illusion of things suspended in the air. We expect everything to stay up, that is why we fumble. We want it all to stay up, we throw it all in the air expecting it to stay. When it falls we frantically try to pick it up and in that process everything else falls. Then we say, let it all fall and God will take care of it. I just won’t even try to juggle. Stop, just stop. Letting things fall apart is not trusting God. Trusting God is being unafraid to catch what is coming your way and unafraid to let go of what needs to be tossed to God. Juggling is misunderstood because we think we have to keep our eyes on our hands to be successful. In actuality you have to keep your eyes up to juggle well. Knowing where your hands are you see the ball at it’s peak and you know where it will land. An awareness of where everything is. If we were to translate this into our lives. One hand would be you and the other God. The ball would be trials, opportunity, or blessings. Know where you are and know where God is, and keep your eyes on eternity. See what God is tossing your way and how it affects eternity then catch it. The most important part of catching is having an open hand to do so. To have an open hand you have to release what you’re holding on to now. Toss it up, watch as it arcs across your eternal perspective. But when it leaves your line of sight, trust that God is going to catch. So often we perceive God through our mistakes, if I fumble the ball surely God will fumble it too. We have it backwards, we are made in His image not He in ours. We need to perceive ourselves through His perfection, He doesn’t fumble the ball so I am capable of not fumbling it. We try to watch it all the way into God’s hand to see what He does with it and we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, things seem as though they fall apart.
So much I’ve tried to figure out. How will this journey end what will it look like? What am I missing trying figure out the future? We often step out in faith with this big picture in mind of what God is going to do with this step. Mid way through it the questions begin. If we were to put a twist in the juggling analogy for a bit, and say that the ball is our perspective. We are nestled in God’s hand and He whispers, “Hey I want you to do something great.” Then we step out in faith, He tosses up. At the peak of the arc we see the big picture and become filled Joy for what He is going to do. Then we catch the ball, we are walking out what was asked of us. But where is God, what is He doing? We want God to be doing the big picture things right now, right in front of us. Well He is doing those things, maybe not right in front of us. This is where Joy comes in. Being able to trust what God is doing with what you have let go of. Remembering the elation of being in His hand. Avoid being caught up with the results or the stats. So often we search for the results of the promise given and we forget the one who gave the promise. Even the greatest examples of faith didn’t hold onto what was promised, but who promised. All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. Hebrew 11:13 Long for heaven but don’t long for the end. Welcome the promise, don’t worship the promise. Want for God, not what He can provide.
Will we be like Abram and try to conceive the promise through his doubt. Which has caused much turmoil for many generations. The size of the promise will be the size of the problem if we try to conceive it in our own time. Or will we be like Joseph and trust the promise is coming, outside of his timing inside a prison. I’m sure Joseph had his doubts, the difference is he never acted on those doubts. Rest assured that no matter how we wait on the promise or what doubts we act on, God always comes through. God gave Abram a new name and followed through with the promise.
He’s preparing us for the promise: Joseph learned the Egyptian language and how to manage both a household and a prison.
He’s putting purpose to the promise: Joseph came to terms and forgave his brothers, and saved his nation.
He’s pulling our pretexting from the promise: God showed Joseph his dreams were about more than being worshiped.
Let’s get back to tee ball. Your Father wants to see you on the field. Whether you hit a home run or strike out, He is there to cheer you on. Your performance doesn’t change the outcome of the game. We are playing in a game that has already been won. How much we win by is up to us.
(Don’t take this as me advocating the “everyone’s a winner” philosophy. Every game has a loser. It’s just not us when it comes to eternity)