Nehemiah 8: 10 "...the joy of the Lord is your strength."
This week, the joy of God has been so much more tangible and overflowing in my spirit than I can ever recall. I've certainly had joyous moments of rapture: my wedding day, the birth of our children, etc. But never has the joy been so all-encompassing and yet so uncircumstantial. My dad fights cancer daily with constant pain and sleeplessness. Our finances are lower than they've ever been, leaving us with unpaid bills and needs. The kids have been sick a lot this winter. The weather is awful. The sun is absent. I could go on, just as I'm sure you could.
But my mind isn't on those things any more. It has been. And the focus reeled me into a pit of anger, doubt, and fear. My heart's emotions crowded out any place for God's Spirit to pour in joy. The pit was already filled... with muck.
I had to let go of the mud pie in my hands before God could place something delicious there.My earlier post explains what He did.
He did what I couldn't and filled me with something I couldn't muster on my own.
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy. Nehemiah 12:43
And that has led me to this place of utter wonder at who God is and how He fills us. Because I believe that true joy, lasting joy, can't come apart from salvation. And that work is a complete effort on His part and a complete receiving on ours.
His work is ongoing--saving us from ourselves and our natural tendencies to fall (or jump) into the pit. Despite my misery, I clung to my putrid feelings, justifying my sin. I wanted to feel peace and joy, but I didn't want to let go of my anger. Using it as a protective shield, I blocked God's Spirit and all the beauty that He brings with His presence. (Gal. 5:22-23). After all, letting go is scary, especially when you think you carry some semblance of control--an illusion, yes.
With repentance, God can clean us up and fill our spirits with such incredible Presence. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Act. 3:19
Not only did He take away the anger and doubt, He poured joy over my heart, and poured and poured, and keeps pouring. It doesn't make any sense, but that's the beauty of grace--such undeserved blessing.
I feel like I am standing under a waterfall. When anger or frustration or fear splatter on my soul, His powerful joy quickly washes it away. I don't want to ever crowd His Spirit again. So, for now, I boldly declare: there is no room for any but Him. May I stand watch at the door, guarding my heart from those little "pet" sins that want to come in and take up residence.
Prov. 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.