As Christians we face darkness, tribulations and storms frequently in life. In fact someone recently said you are either in a storm right now, coming out of a storm or heading into one! Well heck that doesn’t sound very encouraging. The source of our troubles can be very different and tragedy can strike at any moment… so let me ask you a question. Is it possible for a Christian to live a JOYOUS life EVERY day?
The Art of Joy
A few years ago I worked in an office with a gentleman named Art. This man seemed to be filled to the brim with joy… he always walked around with a pleasant look or smile. If you ever spoke to him, his voice was always soft and gentle and he would laugh at nearly anything. He never seemed to encounter a bad mood in the 10 YEARS I knew him!!! I mean, who did this guy think he is?! So one day at the time clock I asked him… Hey Art are you a Christian? He looked at me with a big grin and said… oh YES I love me some Jesus!
Wow, I wasn’t a Christian for very long in those days, in fact I loved the world more than I loved God and it showed in every aspect of my life. This guy Art had something that I wanted… that ambiance…. that overflowing spirit of God… that part of him that he couldn’t contain… it was like a huge billboard around his neck that read I LOVE JESUS.
How could I have that? I wondered. I never asked Art about it… I just kept living in the world, doing my thing. But not long ago, after a very long and boneheaded attempt at Christianity I discovered the secret to the Art of Joy:
Seek daily the presence of God.
My Pastor this Sunday said “Everything changes in the presence of God. Whether we are on a mountaintop or in a valley, everything changes in the presence of God.”
We are not guaranteed happiness in this life, in fact we can expect trials and tribulations… Storms will be frequent. It is not our circumstances that matter, but our Character. It is not WHAT is happening to us that matters, but HOW we respond. Here is what we find in the book of James 1:2-4:
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We know we can expect bad things to happen in life, and we know there are various ways we can respond to every bad situation that comes along. So how do we respond regularly in a way that pleases God? That’s a good question, that’s a very good question.
Words from God
Very recently, in the last week, God has given me two words…. Stability and Focus. The two words were given in much different ways and on different days, but they have helped open my eyes to what it means to seek daily the presence of God.
In my Christian life, I have had ups and downs spiritually speaking. Some days strong in the force, other days wanting to be left alone by everyone. I have had weeks of regular Bible reading followed by weeks where I never even cleaned the dust off the top. There have been seasons of active willful sin, followed by seasons of true repentance.
But as I sit here now, I don’t believe that is the way it is supposed to be. When I hear words like stability and focus I think of my daily relationship with God. How seeking his presence daily will BRING STABILITY to all areas of our lives. How making God the one true FOCUS arranges everything else into its proper place. Your marriage or relationship will be taken to new levels, your work will be more fulfilling… in short ALL of your relationships will improve.
But how do we seek?
Many people think being a Christian is about a checklist… I went to church on Sunday, check… read my Bible today, check… prayed this morning, check… check, check, check! You can check off 100 things a day and still NOT have a close relationship with Jesus Christ!
So I have a word I want to pass on to you. Surrender. A relationship with Jesus is all about Surrender. Give up your life for Him, 100% of it, and trust that He can do it better. Let’s face it, I don’t know how old you are, but you have been living life all along, on your terms… your way. How is that working out for you?
Start today, and maybe for the first time ever, place Jesus on the throne over your life… you see He is not JUST your Savior, but He is also your LORD. Let Him rule over your life and sit back in awe over His plans for you… it may not look or feel like anything you imagined, but I can promise you it is far better than your best imagined life could be.
And this my friends is the secret to finding true joy in your life.