"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22ESV
Confession time. I'm a joy chaser. What's a joy chaser? A joy chaser is someone who chases after THINGS in hopes of catching a little bit of joy. The trouble is, a joy chaser either catches just the tail end of the joy and then loses their grasp or they miss it entirely. It's like a unicorn running swiftly through the forest. A joy chaser can see the unicorn of joy, but they can't quite get it in their grip.
And that's me. I'm a joy chaser. I chased joy in the guise of homeschooling and then around the corner and down the street into this house. I chased joy in the nursery at church and with the "big kids" there too. Lately, I have been chasing joy down the road while I run and in my kitchen while I cook. I chase joy in books and in movies and in brand new red pants that I just love. And maybe that isn't all bad, to be chasing joy, but the Bible says this about joy:
"Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." - John 16:24ESV
And also this:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." -Romans 15:13ESV
I realized just today that I am a joy chaser (or maybe I've known a long time) and I am chasing it in all the wrong places. Sure, being healthy is a good thing. My kids going to public school this year has been amazing for them. Red pants are a happy thing as is the Dairy Free ice cream that I simply can't say no to. We love this house and our chickens. But my joy isn't here in any of these THINGS.
The Bible makes it clear that if I want joy, I have to go straight to the source. I have to go to God to get my fill of joy. Paul talks about that in Philippians when he tells his readers that he has learned the secret to being content. He knows that he can "do all things through Christ" who strengthens him. He knows that whether he has a little or a lot here on earth, he still has all he needs. He still has Jesus.
So what are the steps to getting joy? I'm still figuring it all out but I know that these are the first ones:
1. Let go of all the things- We don't have to do it all or have it all. Joy isn't in our stuff. It's not something we can buy at a store or order online. Trust me, I've checked. If Amazon doesn't have it, no one does. Let's just be real.
2. Give away some of your time- Believe it or not, joy hides in the weirdest of places. It hides inside a crying baby that just needs held or fed. It's on the top shelf in the dustiest corner at the food bank where you're asked to stack cans. It's in the bottom, over-stuffed drawer of your son's dresser just waiting to be donated to Goodwill or the family around the corner. It's even in the car as you drive others around because they need a ride.
3. Talk to Jesus- He loves to hear from you. God says that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made. He longs to have a relationship with you. And nothing gives HIM more joy than to hear from you about your life. Give him all your worries, all your concerns, all your dreams and hopes and wishes, and all your happy thanks. He'll take it all in heaps and still have space to hold more. Don't forget to ask him for JOY because he will give it in abundance.
4. Read your Bible- We talk to God through prayer and God talks BACK through scripture. Those ancient words written so many thousands of years ago still speak to us today. I can't tell you the number of times that I have whispered a plea to hear from God as I read only to read something that made total sense in that moment as I searched the Bible's pages. Don't know where to start? Check out John. You will meet Jesus as the God who LOVES you.
Which step are you going to take today?
Be blessed today and don't forget to be a blessing!