Guilty for Stealing Joy
Through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears the way
Wait because in His time, so shall this night
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy
Soon end in joy, soon end in joy.
~ Jars of Clay, God Will Lift Up Your Head
Storms don’t have to be external circumstances that make you feel out of control and feel distant from God. In fact, mine tend to all be in my head. My surrounding life and family can be running smoothly, seem just fine, but my mind is full of clouds, storms of fear, anxiety, and noise that drowns out God’s voice. I am self-aware enough to know that at times this calls for a physical relase of energy, one of the reasons I run about twice a week. I usually feel compelled to do it, to clear my mind, soak in Vitamin D from the sun, and fill my ears with the methodical beats of worship aligned with my shoes pounding the trail. Other times, though, running isn’t enough, it is something in my gut that can only be processed through prayer, writing and reflection. It is God’s way of pounding on my heart that He misses our time and I have let life take hold of my heart instead of Him.
This week I have witnessed the effect these storms can have on my attitude, my peace, and serenity. I can’t pinpoint a trigger, everything on the outside seems fine, but inside my heart has been robbed of joy. The storms on the inside are far worse than those on the outside- and I have seen the result of external damage outwardly that began from one degree off in the mind. In fact, Matt and I had a conversation this week about how the enemy doesn’t tempt us (me) with immediate, extreme sinful behavior, he tempts us by distracting us from our source of peace, direction, and joy- often causing me to focus on myself, my feelings, and entitlement. I then allow it to transition to a selfish attitude resulting in grey clouds of unhappiness. Where is my joy? I left it behind.
I see more clearly now the sinful nature that so easily entangles. “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind” (Rom 7:22). I am left feeling like the dry bones scattered on the floor of the valley needing only the breath of the living YAHWEH to bring flesh and life to what is dry and lifeless. I realize now more than ever that amidst the clouds and storms of my mind, there is only one thing I can be sure of, certain of, and that “Christ [can] make his home in my heart as I trust him. My roots will grow down into God’s love and keep me strong. And may I have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” That with my effort to seek him, know him, that I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Eph 3:18-19
Once you experience the love of God, embrace His son as the source of joy, and listen to the Spirit’s voice, it is evident that there is no other truth. There is no job, no book, no talk, no pill, no running trail, no end to the chaos around you that can bring back your joy but Him who created it. If I never had storms, if I was never tempted away from God, I would never have reason to choose him, I would never run to him, and never have need to thank him from delivering me from myself- for that is who I have to blame in the end. And that is my sin- I allow the storms and confusion room in my heart to rob me of joy. And I am grateful to know that- because I want joy not of my own making- because I can’t make it.
After Ezekiel delivers prophesy as he is told, the bones took back the form of life, but only Yahweh could breath life back into them. This was his message to his people- “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.”
Yahweh- I beg you to breath you life into me, restore my joy, forgive me for my sinful heart- for I make myself an idol when I shift focus from you to me. Clear the way, and in your time, end this period of night with joy. Settle me in the land you have already given me, and mark my character so that I will remember that it is you who did it all, for there is no greater truth than what you have already spoken in your Word and through the power of your son.