Monday, October 30, 2006

I have decided it's my decision

Like many other things, I have been recently reminded of something I already knew. It's my decision, my choice whether or not to have joy. God's joy, after all, is freely offered. It's one of those things where you can be a "Glass-is-half-empty..." or "half-full" - kind of gal (or guy).

Here are some of His thoughts on the subject:

ISAIAH 12: 4 - 6 "...Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

ISAIAH 52: 7 - 10 "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God."

JAMES 1: 2 - 4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. "

I PETER 4: 12 - 13 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

NEHEMIAH 8:10 "...Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

PSALM 5:11 - 12 "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous, you surround them with your favor as with a shield."

PSALM 16: 9 - 11 "Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

PSALM 30: 5 "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

PSALM 98:4 "Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music"

PSALM 126:5 "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy."

...and there are so many more references....just look it up.

But all of this has led me to believe that it's my job to ask for it (James 1), wait for it (Psalm 30:5), proclaim it (Psalm 98:4), and that it may not always come without trials preceeding it (Psalm 126:5).

My biggest threat to my joy? Is lonliness. My readers probably think (all 3 of you - haha), "How can a person with two jobs, a husband, and 4 kids ever feel lonely...especially when you consider the house in which she lives?" Well, it may not be clear to you, but that is probably the biggest obstacle I face for joy. I battle it almost every day. I'm reminded of the story of Elijah when he had fled for his life for fear of Jezebel. He was exhausted, he was alone, he was afraid. He even said to the angel of the Lord (my paraphrase), "I've been gung-ho for God. I've done a lot for Him and His Name. People have rejected God's word. They have destroyed the work I've done. They have killed others like me. I'm the only one left. Now they want to kill me, too." (At this point, I'm humbled thinking I have never been hunted down or run for my life and been that lonely...) The Lord's answer? Go back. Get a few others, anoint them with oil, prepare them for this work. There are 7000 there for you! 7000 who believe just like you. You're not alone.

And as a person so heavily involved in music, the book of Psalms is especially amazing to me. Psalm 41 says "...Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But you, O Lord, have mercy on me; you raise me up...In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever." I'm never alone. I'm always with Him.

But sometimes, it doesn't feel that way. Someone once told me that Satan can't read our thoughts but can influence them. He exploits our fears.

Jesus himself felt loneliness when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. All He had asked was that His closest friends sit up and pray for Him...and they couldn't keep their eyes open.

Paul was alone. He said in 2 Tim. 4 "at my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth..."

Passages like these help me put things in perspective. It's not like anything I am doing is landing me in jail, stripping my kids and family from me, making me bear the sins of mankind, or even putting me in danger. Even though I know that, I struggle with finding joy in my daily life. I usually can give over the big things and smile through them. Don't get me wrong, I have days when it all seems insurmountable. For the most part, I can not worry. I got THAT part of Matthew down! The lillies don't have a thing on me....yeah, right!

It's finding joy in the mundane. Joy in the laundry. Joy in the organizing. Joy in the backstabbing at work. Joy in the weariness. Joy in the dishes. Joy in the taxi-driving to and from activities that are only just beginning....

I've come to the conclusion, though. It's MY choice. MY decision. No one can change it. Why do I look at it as if it's some strange thing happening? (I Peter 4) It's GOING to happen. I'm GOING to face this. The next time I am tempted to let the emotions engulf me, I pray that I can just picture Paul in jail for simply believing and proclaiming God's salvation plan, singing praises to His name.

OKAY - ONE MORE THING: Read about this boy...TODAY, when he saw me on my way out to my van after school, he ran to me, threw his arms around me and gave me a hug. When I told the librarian about it (who was waiting for her ride by the back door), she was shocked!!! I couldn't believe it!!!!! It completely made my day!


Eric and Kendra said...

Michelle...I think we're facing similar battles. As busy as I am, lonliness still seems to crowd its way into my life. I think that's why I posted about girlfriends on my blog the other day. Gosh I could use a girl's night! I know that's not exactly what you're talking about here, but that's kind of where I am right now. I enjoyed reading your thoughts today. Thanks for sharing.

Kris & Megan Hutsell said...

I think the real test of ourselves is in the daily rituals and chores that must be done everyday. There aren't many people that like doing them, but if we accomplish them and get them done, we have won. It's not a battle of wits or against others, it's a battle over our own flesh. If we can win over our flesh, then we have the power to defeat anything that Satan throws at us.
Thank you for the verses on joy. I don't have any close Christian friends here, but it's made me beleive that God wants to draw me near without any else guiding or prodding me. It's something I have to do on my own. It's very hard. I've longed to have my husband say 'Let's do devotions together or pray together'. The truth is, it's just not going to happen. Not yet anyway. I think God must change me first and then maybe Kris will come around. I've longed for my church and my friends, my sister.... :( It's just not what God wants right now. But ohh the beauty that he's put around me in my children, the ocean view, the wonderful weather. The list goes on and on. I feel so blessed that if I ever need to find God, He's always found in my kids' laughter or just by glancing out the window.
Thank you Lord for Michelle, that I don't feel alone in this journey.

Audrey said...

first let me just say...i miss you!
and second, i suuuure do hope you put picture up of the boys in their halloween get-ups!! :) i cant wait!!