I woke up this morning with a yearning, a thought, and a prayer.
The yearning was for joy; a piece of light littered with delight amidst all the heaviness.
The thought was this: how do I find the kind of joy that keeps my heart open long enough to let the light in?
And the simple, yet powerful, prayer I whispered answered that thought while simultaneously fulfilling the yearning in my heart.
Oh, Father, help me delight myself in You.
I’ve been taking the time recently to remind myself of who God is. I’ve written about how God doesn’t change even though our circumstances do. I’ve told you that He alone is our Home and our safe place, and we can choose not to let the chaos of this year in if we would only place our focus on His wrap-around presence.
So when I awoke this morning with a yearning for joy, He lovingly reminded me that only He could provide the kind of lasting joy that my soul desperately longs for.
God is our source of wild joy and great delight.
This got me thinking, friend.
What if joy isn’t just supposed to be a fleeting feeling? What if joy is supposed to be the shield we use to thwart the chaos and the lies swarming in our minds? What if choosing joy – choosing to delight ourselves in God – is how we keep our eyes fixed on His? What if joy is the key to keeping our souls anchored to hope instead of looking at the world and feeling swallowed by despair?
I think we sometimes forget that as much as God delights Himself in us, He was meant to be delighted in. God is a joyous God that longs to give Himself away, and our only requirement is that we reach out and receive Him.
Because when we choose to receive His joy, it strengthens us to pick up our shields and lay down our fears.
The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10
And that strength-filled, fear-killing joy is found at the feet of Jesus.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Psalm 16:11
If joy is found in the presence of the One who never changes, then as much as it might feel like it at times, joy is never scarce. It couldn’t be, not when God promises us His wrap-around presence. If He is constantly with us, then we always have access to joy. God loves us so much, friend, that the only way we can fully access this joy is through spending time with Him and leaning in closer to His heart. He is the Giver who longs to give good things, and He created us to receive what we need from enjoying the light of His presence. He is a God of wild joy and great delight, and He longs to give that joy away just as He gives His full self away.
So, the question this week is, how do we position ourselves to receive Him amidst the heaviness and craziness of this year? How do we turn His joy into a fortified shield rather than merely using it as a feeling based solely on our circumstances?
We do life with Jesus. We continually run to His feet no matter how hard life gets and allow our hearts to break open in His presence.
I don’t believe living a joyous life means that we’re happy all the time. It doesn’t mean we ignore the pain within ourselves and stuff it down deep. It doesn’t mean we stop allowing ourselves to feel sorrow or loneliness because God is right there with us, even in those moments.
Sometimes, I think we shy away from the joy of the Lord because we have this preconceived notion that to receive it, our lives have to look great. Almost like it has to be earned. We think that joy is this pretty little package wrapped up perfectly and reserved only for those who get it right every time. But, Sis, I think true joy – the kind found in Jesus – looks a little wonky. It might look a little beat up and worn from life’s battles, but that’s ok because it’s evidence that you’ve been reaching for it – reaching for Him – the entire time. His joy is a gift free to all who are willing to receive it with open arms and an open heart.
I think living a joyous life means allowing ourselves to be present in our feelings as we reach for His presence and allow Him to speak truth over us. I think living a life rooted in His joy looks a little messy, maybe a bit rough around the edges as we do our best to walk this beautifully imperfect life and reach for His hands the entire time. I think living a joyous life starts by living a broken life covered in His grace.
Brokenness isn’t something to fear, my friend. It is the very avenue that God uses to make you stronger. Living broken before God allows His light to pierce your heart and fill the soul holes that you’ve been trying to stuff with empty distractions and temporary pleasures. Living broken means that you’re allowing God to showcase His strength within you, and believe me, there is absolutely nothing weak about that.
Brokenness opens the door to the fullness of joy and eternal pleasures in the presence of God.
And our brokenness leads to humility and God-strength, which opens the door to gratitude.
Gratitude gives us eyes to see that the small blessings are actually big blessings and that everything given is a gift from God. Gratitude positions us to become receivers. Receivers of His love and keepers of His joy. It’s through this act of breaking open our hearts and offering up our gratitude that we become receivers of His presence and His joy.
I don’t know about you, friend, but I don’t just want to live a happy life. I want to live a life filled to the brim with God-sized joy, and I want to choose it, choose Him, in the mundane moments, the darkest moments, and every other moment in between. Because it’s the joy of the Lord that will be my strength, and it’s my delight for Him that will light the way.
So as I allow myself to break open in His presence this week, I invite you to do the same. I invite you to be vulnerable before the One who knows you better than anyone… better than you know yourself. I invite you to offer up your thanks as you receive His love, which then fills your soul with joy.
Because He is our joy, and we were created to take great delight in Him.