Originally published Friday, 07 February 2014.
What is it?
How do you find it?
How do you keep it?
Like a butterfly that you can’t seem to catch.
Like a flicker of gold in the light that you can’t seem to pinpoint.
Like that very last bit of shampoo that despite how many times you turn the bottle upside down, you simply can’t get it out.
Joy…how do you know if you have it?
Does it hit you like a title wave?
Do you always have to be smiling to be truly joyful?
You know why I think we make having “joy” so difficult?
We couple it with expectations.
I will be joyful WHEN I make enough money to buy a new house.
I will be joyful IF I finally reach my goal weight.
I will be joyful AFTER I meet the man/woman I am supposed to be with for the rest of my life.
Well, a few things to that:
1.) Have you met people in big houses that aren’t joyful? If that is the precursor now, then what will you need next to meet your joy quota?
2.) I promise, promise, promise that if you are not content with the inside first and foremost, your outside appearance will never matter. You will climb and you will climb and you will climb and you will be relentlessly disappointed.
3.) If you attract the man/woman you think is your lifelong boo BEFORE you start acting in the joy of Jesus, well….good luck with that homie! That is going to make for one long ride, especially after the honeymoon
I guess what I am saying is that I think we treat joy as a cause and effect scenario.
If this happens, I will then be joyful.
But the longer I live, the more material things I attain, the increasing number of people I learn about, I realize joy was never supposed to be coupled with expectations, grouped within a scenario or the result of one event or another.
It is joy.
And there is only one source: Jesus.
But really, I have come up with a new definition of joy to help remind myself.
JOY: Jesus Over You.
And by you, I mean me.
Jesus over me!
Jesus over you!
Jesus over it all.
It’s not a destination we have to arrive at, there is simply no journey required.
To me, joy is the response our hearts have when we realize how incredibly and overwhelmingly LOVED we are by someone who seriously has no business dealing with us- He is a King.
It is something we already have access to right now.
I am currently reading a book that discusses how special and necessary it is that we realize where joy finds its roots.
Voskamp writes, “Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing – and are filled.”
With no sense of entitlement, no expectation of how life is supposed to go for them, joy-filled people enter the day with an insurmountable amount of joy because of one thing:
Jesus gave them today.
What a GIFT!
They expect nothing because they realize that they have already been given far, far, far more than their human heart could ever deserve.
And when something good happens!? Praise Jesus!
And when something bad happens!? Still, Praise Jesus!
They realize the significance of their smallness.
No, it is not that they do not know and believe that their God can perform miracles, climb mountains or do mighty, incredible things.
They just know the story of their life, the catching of their butterfly, it is interwoven into a gigantic thread of hearts and stories and the point of their scene is not to make the audience remember them as a character.
The point of their scene is to show the joy that is found in the director of the whole thing!
They live in admiration of the Maker who mightily holds them in His hands.
Like a giant farmer holding a small pea in His hands; a pea that was formed, developed, alive and fruitful because of nothing it did on its’ own, but because of everything it’s caretaker sacrificed.
Is that not us?
We are the pea and our only appropriate response is to live in a way that reflects the farmer’s care for our lives, holding His calloused hands as they remind us His grace will sustain us.
In the dying of our expectations and feelings of entitlement, we begin to live in the way that we were created to, in awe and admiration of our Savior.
All the little blessings then surprise us because we know we don’t deserve them.
Is that how it goes?
Is that how we achieve it, attain it, hold it in our hands?
That joy, that butterfly that you just can’t seem to catch?
We kneel on their knees as joy fills our hearts with such consuming thankfulness, we can hardly believe it is even real.
And it is then that the butterfly softly lands on our hand as though it was never afraid to rest there.
It just needed us to stop moving, stop reaching, stop climbing and simply believe that Jesus was always enough.
“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” -Psalm 16:11