Monday, March 30, 2009

"Are You Joy?"


"Let a man set his heart only on doing the will of God and he is instantly free."

A. W. Tozer

I felt a gentle touch tap my shoulder, and turning to look behind, I heard a quiet, inquisitive voice. "Are you Joy?" We were in a subdued, slightly tense setting, with the typical tone that preludes a somber service for one recently passed. I had accompanied my husband there, as he was asked to speak words of comfort to a family with whom we were little familiar, not an uncommon request for those called to pastoral service.

"No, Ma'am, I'm sorry, I'm not." Looking puzzled and slightly perturbed, she said I looked like Joy and that she surely thought I was. I apologized again and turned, waiting on the service to begin.

After going home, I sat on my sofa and mused about her words. I found myself seeing a deeper meaning behind a simple, uneasy situation. Her question permeated my thoughts, somehow cut to the quick. It went beyond a case of mistaken identity. It was something more than a passing occurrence soon to be forgotten.

I was, during that time, quite exhausted. I was doing my best to be a loving wife, caring mother of two teenage sons, an ace college student and practicum teacher, all the while striving to be a perfect pastor's wife. All in my own strength. All in my own way. All in my own time. Practicing my own will.

My strength was depleted. My energy sapped. My love for God lukewarm. My joy gone. At times, I wanted to drop everything but my family and start over. At times, the stress I carried was so great that I wished I had never followed my own dreams. My own dreams. Dreams that had taken me to an utter state of physical, emotion, mental, and spiritual fatigue.

I cried to the Lord. My heart broke, for I felt the impact of my own failure in leaping into a life-changing decision without seeking God for His peace. I had reasoned my way into such resolve. It seemed so practical. Such a fruitful, honorable endeavor. A means of plenty for our family, who had long suffered from the often lean times found in the ministry.

As I sought the Lord, He sustained me and gave me strength to continue. What I had, in my own wisdom, begun, He provided health and help to complete. God is merciful. After a five year journey of pain and fatigue, with many battle wounds, God moved in a miraculous, yet unpredictable way, and delivered me from a weary war that I had started. He restored my peace and gave me His strength. My joy was renewed.

We know God's word says that His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). And this joy can be exuberance, but it is, as well, a contented state of spiritual well-being. A satisfaction in Christ. And we find His joy through intimacy with Him, as we seek God's face, eat and drink His word, believe in His holy name, and surrender our lives, daily taking up the cross of Jesus Christ.

It is not perfection that give us joy. It is not success. It is not even the realization of a dream. It is simply doing our best in striving to become mature saints, who will reflect the glory of God. As we yield our lives to Him, we find peace, and through peace with our Heavenly Father, we discover joy, and this joy, this implacable gladness of heart, gives us strength to run the race with patience. Remember, it was for the joy set before Him that our Lord endured the cross and despised the shame of His suffering (Hebrews 12:2). The joy of saving our souls gave Him the strength to endure such horror and pain. What a privilege to serve Him! And how marvelous it is to walk in the joy of the Lord!


Picture is from 2004. I apologize that it's not recent, but it was all I could find this morning.

21 comments:

  1. Hi Andrea,
    What a beautiful description of true joy. I think so often we feel that "if this" or "if that" is where we find our joy and it truly is found in obeying the One who loves us unconditionally.
    You've given me much to chew on today!
    Thank you!

    xoxo Cori

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  2. Thank you so much Andrea for this word today. It really spoke to my heart and was sent at just the right time too!
    May God bless you!

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  3. What a beautiful post. I was just thinking earlier about the joy that following the Lord brings in all that we do each day. You said it wonderfully:)

    Blessings,

    Kim

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  4. Oh how we all need to hear these things! Thanks:-)

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  5. I still love the song from Sunday School that said...

    The joy of the Lord is my strength...
    If you want joy you must sing for it...
    If you want joy you must shout for it...
    If you want joy you must jump for it...
    The joy of the Lord is my strength...


    Thank you for sharing your testimony of joy and bringing to remembrance a song I had not thought about in a long time....

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  6. Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for stopping by to see me. I "enjoyed" your post about joy. I love Neh. 8:10 and whenever I read it I usually break into a mental version of "The Joy of the Lord is my strength".

    Looking forward to getting to know you better.

    Cindy

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  7. What a great testimony of joy restored! Thanks for sharing this.

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  8. Hi Andrea, thank you so much for visiting my blog, your comment was so sweet!
    Hope to see you back again..
    Your blog is so pretty, can't wait to read a little more.
    Have a wonderful night!
    Tiffany

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  9. It is a small world isn't it? We are about an hour away from Gainesville. Have a wonderful week.

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  10. Thank you for visiting my site Andrea and I am so glad that I visited yours. It is beautiful. I can't wait to figure out how to design my blog. I will be retiring from my job in June and hope to have more time to spend with new found friends in "blog world".

    Your writings and thoughts of "Joy" are gratefully received and might I add beautifully written. I can tell you are an English teacher. Please do not grade my written comments. English was not one of my better subjects. lol.

    I am truly blessed to have a large group of wonderful friends who love the Lord as much as I do. We have a great time in Bible Study and fellowship.

    I want you to know that I will pray for you, especially in your roll as a Pastor's wife. I appreciate the sacrifices you make and the time that you give to others.

    Your friend in Christ, Lori (Luv2Praise)

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  11. I still hold for some dreams to come true; my weary invested in seeing them happen often leaves me longing for quiet seasons, babbling brooks, and a secluded cabin in the mountains (with internet of course...). It's been hard to surrender some of those dreams as I have walked a long road with the needs of others as my portion. Still and yet, the longer I travel with Jesus, the more I seek after Him and grow in Him, my dreams seem less insistent, less urgent, less needed.

    I am finding all I need in Him. He is the collector of my dreams; He seeded them in me long before I walked their possibility. Somehow, that brings me comfort on days when I'm weary worn and want to quit the everyday.

    Life is living very good for me right now. Nothing spectacular...just very good, and my soul is at peace about a great many things.

    Thanks for taking the journey with me. Keep teaching me. I need a mentor and a friend who's been there.

    peace~elaine

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  12. What a well written message on the joy that the Lord brings to us all everyday. We should be praising him everyday, I know when I do I stay filled with Joy! Amen.
    You have a beautiful blog "really" I so enjoyed scrolling through it, and I'm looking forward to seeing more from you. That is a beautiful picture of you and your husband.

    Have a beautiful and Blessed filled day :)

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  13. Andrea, you have a lovely place here. I love your red walls and crown molding in the room of header. Makes me even more anxious for my move and to get my "new" walls painted.

    You have lovely pictures throughout your blog.

    Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog. I had to smile when you quoted Eph. 3:20...He indeed can and does do exceedingly more than we EVER imagine. Thanks for that reminder as I trust in Him to do this for me once again as He did joining my beloved and me.
    In Him,
    Paula

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  14. Oh I just love you blog it is so lovely!! I am also a HUGE fan of old movies and books (Pride and Prejudice being my all time FAVORITE!!!!). I look forward to following your blog!!
    Blessings!!

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  15. Thank you for sharing your thoughts for a weary soul.

    Be filled with Joy!
    Debbkay

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  16. Ohh Andrea,
    What a beautifully written post.

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  18. This is an excellent post!

    Robbie

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  19. I know that sometimes our joy gets lost or becomes hidden among the many things in our life and even at times is covered with sorrow- I now understand that joy is not just being happy - when my hubby died in July 21-2008 I knew that there could be joy in my sorrow because of who God is---I miss hubby every day but every day the Lord gives me a joy memory of him - I just have to listen - hugs from Meme

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  20. Thank you for visiting my blog with words of kindness...and for this post. I needed them both this morning! You write beautifully, and, since I'm going to "follow" you, I'll look forward to reading more in the future. It's so refreshing to read what others say who love the Lord. : )
    ~Michele

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Thank you for visiting. I cherish your thoughts. You are special to me, but most of all, you are special to God, who loves you with everlasting love. May your life be swept into His joy and peace.

In the Wonderful Love of Christ our Savior,

Andrea