Thursday, December 4, 2014

Where is the JOY?

Photo Courtesy of Bulldogza/freedigitalphotos.net
I know, O LORD, that Your judgements are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.  O may Your loving kindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.  May Your compassion come to me that I may live, For Your law is my delight.  Psalm 119: 75-77

Some years it feels impossible to find joy during the holiday season.  People are still sick, people are still dying, people are still losing their jobs and losing their homes.  WHAT is so magical about that?
Nothing...
That's why I was so thrilled to hear the sermon that I did last Sunday at Summit in Sparks, NV.  It was a sermon about joy.  It was a sermon about finding joy in being humbled; in being lowly. 

It's easy to sing a song or repeat a beautiful phrase from "Silent Night" or "Joy to the World."  That doesn't really take much from our soul.  However, when we stop and think about the fact that God, who spoke and made the light and the dark, who breathed life into us...when we stop and think about the fact that He came to earth to lay in soiled diapers, to learn to walk, to fall and bleed, to get colds, to FEEL cold... or tired...or lashed...or pierced~now THAT is lowly; that is sinking to the bottom.

And if we are told that we need to be more like Jesus in our relationships so we may find JOY???

How do we lower ourselves THAT much?  How can we possibly start to have relationships with a God who gave up all power to SAVE us?  How can we find JOY in the depths of our MISERY?
We have to get over the fact that we think we are entitled to happiness.  We have to quit saying, "I have the right to a day off."  "I have the right to a car that gets me from point A to point B."  "I have a right to eat what I want."
And THAT'S where I found the magic...you see...
I.LOVE.FOOD.
I have been up and down on the weight and fitness scale.  I have to count every calorie I put in my mouth and watch the scale weekly so I don't wind up on another "35 lbs weight-loss mission."  So, the minute our pastor said that we needed to relinquish our "rights" to these things we like to think we DESERVE...I knew what I had to do.

I had to spend a day praying and fasting.

I had never done it before.  I told my church small group Sunday night that I was prepared to do that on Monday.  I know they were praying me through it too because it was a wonderful experience.

I quickly read 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting and Prayer at cru.org .  That helped me to plan out my day and what time frame I would set for myself.  I also downloaded a free app for iPhones called Prayer Prompter.  I HIGHLY recommend that app for helping to strengthen your prayer and daily scripture life.  I've been using the app daily and it now helps me stay focused on my prayers longer, and gives me excellent scripture that correlates to what I'm praying about. 

I have to say that I learned a lot about myself on Monday.  I learned that I spend a LARGE part of my day thinking about and making things to eat.  I also learned that I can survive and even enjoy 2 1/2 hours waiting at a government facility to get paperwork signed by conversing with those who are waiting with me.  Finally, I learned that I have tremendous peace when I'm praying about things rather than complaining about them or just worrying over them.  I have slept so well these past couple of nights, I don't even know how to describe it. 

You're probably wondering what this has to do with Psalm 119, which I quoted above! 

I was struck by a phrase in that Psalm while I was doing my prayer and fasting on Monday. 
Your judgements are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
What God ordains, we have no right to question.
In His faithfulness He causes us to suffer, He has afflicted us.
I find it hard to type anything after that, because it's mind-boggling.  It makes me realize I need to take another day to fast and pray.

There is something calming to me, just knowing that the suffering around me and any suffering within me is ordained, is good, and is out of righteousness.Satan is not in control; God is.

THERE is THE JOY.

Pray:  Heavenly Father, I don't understand Your ways.  I am so thankful that You let us come to You in prayer, and that You sent Your Son to die for us so we can have a direct relationship with You.  Help me continue to find the joy set before me, and help me feel it today so others can see You in me.  Amen.

~Tammie Hefty


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