Oct 19, 2009

28 Days of Joy

The other night I could not sleep. Pressing down on me, a massive, immobilizing weight, were all the things I had to be anxious and sad over. It has been said that the artistic temperament (which I don’t think I have) tends toward angst, but that has always been an ill-hidden and blatant strategy of the enemy’s, designed to draw people like me into deep mires of oppression and confusion. I finally turned the light back on, reached for Habakkuk and re-read the portion God had led me to the previous day.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

GOD, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer's;

he makes me tread on my high places.

(Hab 3:17-19)

It was that little middle part, the one I’ve highlighted, that suddenly struck me with such clarity. I was granted, simply put, revelation. You know those moments when the Holy Spirit has (very graciously) made it all very black-and-white, very easy to understand? Something in the scripture that has been staring me in the face for decades, and that every once in a while I’ve grasped only to loose, finally stood straight up and demanded a decision.

The question is not whether I am or am not currently experiencing some sort of loss or delay. Nor is the question whether I will eventually be happy (we all know I will, when heaven comes to earth or Amy comes to heaven). The question is what will I choose today? It turns out, I have the right to choose joy. It turns out, joy is the portion promised to me. It turns out, that if I decide to reject joy, or not engage in the pursuit of joy, I will have submitted myself to a double loss, an unnecessary loss – one that could truly be called a tragedy because its opposite was fully within my grasp.

Something deep shifted, and all emotion stood far off, as I stared a simple decision in the face and told the Lord that I chose to rejoice in Him.

I immediately decided to thank Him for anything that came to mind. After a few minutes (and a bunny-trail adventure of having to squish my first cricket – because, well, it was hopping around in the bathroom at night…I apologized to the Lord first and got a very thick shoe to use so I wouldn’t feel its substance) … after getting through only about 5 items of thanks, I fell asleep.

The next day, the Lord had orchestrated that people very dear to me came to pray. There are definitely prophets among us, and these called right out that I was living under a spirit of fear and loss and sorrow, and that the fight against these things was “the fight of my life”. They are right. At the end of our time I pulled out Habakkuk (everybody loves that guy!) and we agreed that the road of joy is one rarely discerned or chosen amongst believers. A powerful time of intercession sealed the deal and dealt with a lot of the power these spirits had, but it is my job before the Lord now to consistently choose His way (of joy) instead of the old way.

And so, I have an invitation. I’m in receipt of one, I mean. To spend each day of the next four weeks fighting for joy – against fear and all its constant companions, like sorrow and loss (which make themselves seem oh-so-spiritual in our Christian circles).

I don’t know quite how it will go, but since our personal “un-restoration” (if I can coin such a term) actually affects all those around us whether we realize it or not, and so, conversely, does our restoration, I want to make these days of joy public. So I extend back to you the invitation I received. Join me in the journey of joy (oh boy…that’s just WAY too much alliteration). Let’s see what God does!

Lord, make the deception of fear utterly apparent to us, give us strength in the inner man to do the opposite of what we have spent our lives training our souls toward, and remove the pretend spirituality of sorrow, angst, isolation, introspection, and self-preoccupation. Teach us to choose the inheritance You’ve offered – joy.

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