Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Aisle is the Joy On?

Did anyone else skip New Year's resolutions entirely this year, or is it just me? When the Christmas presents were unwrapped, the cookies were eaten (every last crumb), and the tree was put away...well, at least I meant to put it away before New Year's seemed that I didn't even have the energy to think about making resolutions, much less keep them. I typically start every new year planning to exercise more, clean more, pray and read my Bible more, have people over for dinner more. More, more, MORE! But this year I didn't seem motivated to care about any of it.
Now, being the introspective, analytical thinker I am, my lack of desire to improve, to do more of everything this year really bothered me. At first, I simply wrote it off as general fatigue. This fall I started graduate school, and I am teaching, raising three kids, and walking with my husband through a tough season in his career. But over time I came to realize that I am exhausted in more that only my body. I feel tired in my soul. Somehow, somewhere I misplaced my joy. I don't mean happiness, the kind that comes when you get a fun surprise, and goes when that surprise is on the scale or in the bank statement. I mean deep, satisfying, soul nurturing joy.
I realized mine was missing last week when I attended the funeral of a dearly loved uncle. He was only in his fifties, and had so much life left to live. I watched his wife of about 30 years raise her hands in praise to the Lord for His goodness to them. I saw the light that was still in her eyes, even in the midst of her sorrow. Images of my last visit with him, only a week before his passing, were fresh in my mind. He knew he had little time left, and that many of his dreams for his life were dying with him, yet his joy was undeniable. He could not stop talking about how good God had been to him in his life, and wanted to enjoy every moment of his remaining time on Earth. Even as his body was failing, his soul was prospering.
I want a big, fat helping of that kind of joy. I want to wrap up in it and parade it around for all to see. Wouldn't it be nice to hop in the car, zip over to Target, and ask, "What aisle is the joy on?" (OK you grammarians, I know that sentence was not grammatically correct...) It would be great to just go pick some up and bring it home, right? Well, it's not quite that easy, but I think I have found the solution. It's presence. No, not presents. Presence. God's presence. Psalm 16:11 says, "You have made known to me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy..." As I have rolled this verse around in my head, I have been reminded of the simple truth that God is always present. Yes, always. He is present when I am doing laundry, driving to work, buying groceries, and walking the dog. But how often do I notice His presence? How often do I acknowledge it? I have a sneaking suspicion that as we open our eyes and become fully aware of His presence the joy refill cannot help but happen. His presence is FULL of joy, and when we intentionally enjoy His presence, we also get full of His joy. So, I challenge you this month to join me in noticing His presence. He's there. See Him. Feel Him. Be full.

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