Hungry for Joy

Do you have a craving for more joy in your life?  A desire to feel uplifted and hopeful, in a way that helps you rise above the grief, stress and feelings of frustration that circumstances can bring?

That is where I am at this morning.  I am hungry for some joy.

Let me just begin by clarifying that the joy I am aspiring for is more than a momentary feeling, a hit of happiness.  I’m looking for something that is going to warm my insides and stick to my bones, filling me up to take me through the roller coaster of emotions that I experience as a part of daily life.

I am a morning person.  It’s my favorite time of day.  I am most productive in the morning.  My golden hours are between 5:00am-11:00am.  They are my favorites.  If I could I would lock myself away and not let the world touch those hours.  I would use them for the passionate works that I feel called to; encouragement and prayer.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way for me.  I can, if I am disciplined enough, pinch off that 5:00-6:00am block of time.  There are many mornings that I just wake up and dig into the most annoying things on my to do list because they “HAVE” to get done; the ones with the closest deadlines, and the ones I feel behind on (even if I am not actually behind on them).  This often feels more like drudgery than joy.

Also, I am a wife and mom.  We live on a farm.  There’s plenty of work to do in those morning hours.  I must continue work to find ways to encourage and pray through the routine of daily life.

Just to clarify, being a morning person does not mean that you awaken with beautifully elated feelings of hope every morning.  There are days I wish  I could sleep in.  There are days where I want to pull the covers up over my head and let the world move on without me.  There are days where I downright dread the activities planned on my calendar and I roll out of bed groaning & complaining.

You know how your tummy can rumble and grumble when you are craving some food?  Right now I feel as if my heart is rumbling and grumbling for joy.  My heart is not looking for a quick shot of happiness like a temporary sugar fix.  I’m looking for some deep sustenance that will bring contentment.  The joy that can even overcome the greatest griefs that we face in life.

I know that somewhere in the Bible is a verse about our “joy being made full”.  I’m a big work in progress when it comes to memorizing scripture, I’m trying but I still have a long way to go.  Thank goodness for Google it’s a great tool to use.  So is Bible Gateway, because in my hunger, I wanted the whole array of translations on my plate.

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.John 16:24 (NIV)

You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.John 16:24 (NLT)

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.John 16:24 (NKJV)

This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!John 16:23-24 (Message)

Your JOY will be complete.

You will have abundant JOY.

Your JOY may be full.

Your JOY will be a river overflowing its banks.

I want to try my best to not remove verses from the context that they are found in.  This verse lies right in the middle of a passage of John with the header of The Disciple’s Grief will turn to Joy.  Jesus is talking about going away to the Father in a little while.  He’s telling them that they will weep and mourn.  He relates it child birth being painful, but also the joy that comes at the arrival of the baby.

Jesus goes on to say that the Father will give what we ask for in the name of Jesus.  That if we ask, we will receive and our joy will be made complete.

There is quite a bit in this passage that I am still wrestling with and trying to grasp.  Like I said I am a work in progress.  Like the part about asking in the name of Jesus.  Am I asking for the right things?  Am I asking in the right way?  Or how about the grief and joy part?  Is grief what we get now?  Does joy come when we get to Heaven?  We can have joy right now, right?

I certainly have more questions than I have answers.  I am not a great theologian.  I am a plain and ordinary woman.

Here is what I do know.  I know that Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and it comes right after love.  Being hungry for joy, asking for joy, that seems like the right thing to be asking in the name of Jesus.  As I continued looking at verses on joy, I realized that John writes much about joy, just like he does love.

Like where John records the words of Jesus, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11.   Hmmm….here’s another example of joy following love.

What if love is the meat we feast upon and joy is the dessert that follows?

God loves us lavishly and abundantly.  He gives gracefully and generously.  What if joy follows that incredible love?  Perhaps the joy comes from living out “This is my command, Love each other.” John 15:17.

So if I am hungry for joy, I better get to loving.  As I think back on the most joy filled times in my life, they were moments when I was living out my love for others in the actions that I was taking.

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Action.  I looked up that word in the dictionary.  One of the meanings is “an act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by physical or mental activity.”  If I make a  choice to love, a decision to ask the Lord, pouring forth a physical or mental activity, perhaps then I can find refreshment in the river of joy that overflows its banks.  

Who can we choose to love today?  How will we love them?  What will be the joy that will follow?

I don’t know what circumstances you are facing in life today.  I don’t know the depths of the grief or the weight of the burdens.  I don’t know the exact scale of the frustrations or the force which they are pushing against you right now, but I can imagine that you could use some additional joy in your day.

My dear readers and friends, you may not realize it, but the time that you take to read this right now, that is a HUGE act of love towards me.  I think about you and a pray for each of you so often.  God uses these words, these silly words, to connect our lives.  That is an incredible gift that I am so thankful for.  I am grateful for you.

You have no idea how much I think about what I should write, what should I share, how can I be an encouragement to you by letting you glimpse into my crazy life and the emotions that go with it.

You are an amazing treasure!   You are a beautiful gift! 

More than just being hungry for joy for myself, I am hungry for more joy for all of us; together.  I want to lift all of us up to another level.  Increased passion.  Increased courage.  Increased faith, hope and love.  Splashing in that abundant joy together.

That is what I am asking for in the name of Jesus today.  May we feast upon His love, together, and then may we have a rich helping of joy for dessert.

Beloved and Treasured Lord,

You are so awe-inspiring, my words are so meager and so far from capturing more than a single drop of Your glory.  Lord, this morning was definitely one of my rough start mornings.  The hounds of my to do list are whimpering, howling, barking and growling to be paid attention to.  But my choice, my action this morning has, been to write, even throughout the multiple interruptions from family life on Saturday mornings.  

Help us to ask effectively and then receive fully.  Lord, I ask, in the name of Jesus, for a feast of love and lavish desserts of joy for this weekend.  Not just myself, but for everyone single one of my readers.  I pray that You would break through the banks of the rivers or streams in our lives that our joy currently flows in.  Reveal to us that abundance.  Flood us with joy.  Make us full and complete.

All this I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

 

 

 

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