Thursday, 04 December 2008
by miss goldenrod
"Joy as a category seem[s]...irrelevant. Nice but unessential. Like owning a hot tub. And distant too. The hot tub is in Fiji. Wouldn't it be nice? Ain't going to happen. Life's not really about joy. I've got all this stuff that has to get done. ... Joy? Life's about surviving--and getting little pleasure." John Elderedge, Walking with God.
I was so relieved when I read this and found that a man like Eldredge is as dubious on the topic of joy as I am. He came to the conclusion that it is indeed a necessity, that the Bible speaks of it as one, but I didn't see it. Even with his Biblical references, I couldn't make my mind accept that joy is all that important; and as my mind couldn't reason through it, I didn't think to consult my heart.
Of all the things I have to grow in, joy is not on my list. It's a luxury, nice to experience but nothing to count on... not even a thing to pursue. If all the Christian perks in the Bible were items to be purchased, I'm shopping at Target for essentials like patience, wisdom, and love. Joy can be only found at Bergdorf Goodman, and locked behind glass at that. I can't afford to spend my time on a quest for joy, not when I need the others so much more. We can live without joy; most of already do. After all, it doesn't pay the bills.
I admit, I've felt brief periods of joy, and it's wonderful. There was a day this autumn when I climbed out of my car and saw a bright yellow maple standing alone against a brilliant blue sky...and I felt it gurgling up from my chest and rising to a laugh. But to think I could actually experience that every day, throughout the day...maybe all day? Ridiculous.
As I was writing this, I felt the Holy Spirit hitting me upside my head with his giant foam bat, and I heard, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." "Fruit is" Paul says...not "fruits are". These blessings are a package deal, so why indeed do we think joy is something we shouldn't pursue...or accept, as the case truly stands?
I brought this issue to God a few weeks ago because I don't see joy as being important. Perhaps because of all the fruit[s] of the Spirit, joy is selfish. It seems like a naughty drug in comparison to the others, the fruit that benefits ourselves more than it does those around us.
But God remembered my prayer, of course, and while reading a psalm, I saw this: "The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. Psalm 28:6-7, NLT
Indeed, each time I think of how God has helped me, how he answers my forgotten prayers, I'm happy. When God showed me this verse, I began to see what Eldredge came to understand, that perhaps joy is something we should expect...just by way of knowing Jesus. We don't deny the other items in God's fruit basket, the ones that help others but demand sacrifice of our flesh; so why refuse the one which our flesh actually craves?
What is joy, and where do you find it? Do you consider yourself a joyful person?