Theft of Joy

 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10                 

“…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

                       1 John 4:4

 

My apologies for having not written devotionals the past couple of weeks—I have traveled for work twice in the past two weeks and was not able to get things going. But I’m here now!!

 

I had the opportunity near the end of March to be on a team that worked on a women’s Walk to Emmaus, a 72-hour spiritual retreat that some of you have attended. I was blessed with the opportunity to meet and bond with women I’d never met before. We laughed together, cried together, shared our struggles and our pain, broke bread together, and felt the workings of the Holy Spirit in the mending of broken hearts. It was a cloistered environment, insulated from the distractions of our every day lives. We were unencumbered by perceptions and politics, as we felt God’s love permeating our shared experiences. I drew great strength from making people laugh, and belly laugh we all did.

 

Once we were back in the proverbial wild, returning to our jobs and our families, it was a struggle at times to keep the life I knew before this Walk to Emmaus at bay and maintain the lightness and joy I’d experienced during those three days. Mind you, I’ve done this before—I’ve been blessed to work a number of Walks, each one special and different yet the same, and I’ve handled “reentry” to my regular life just fine. This time, things were a bit different. Work threw me a curve ball or two, and some pruning and conviction from the Lord left me unsettled (add to that some poking from the enemy, and you’ve got a recipe for a quite deflated Laura).

And then, out of the blue, I got a text from one of the ladies with whom I’d become tremendously close. She shared that she was praying for me, and that whenever she thought of the weekend and me, she smiled and recalled my infectious joy.

 

“Infectious joy? Where in God’s green earth has that been?” I wondered when I read the text.

 

As I mourned the loss of my infectious joy, I sought to understand where it went. It had virtually dissipated, except for the times I was in prayer during our Thursday prayer meetings, and during Pastor Ray’s sermons when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through his words. It was there occasionally in my morning prayers.

 

I realized that it was present in those areas in which my focus is solely on Him, when my heart’s gaze is trained on the Author of Life, the Giver of Blessings.

 

Shouldn’t it always be there, though? After all, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and I know that I am the beloved daughter of the one true King. What exactly is there that would cause me to lose sight of that?

 

However, I live in this world, and the ruler of this world knows how best to throw me off my game. A health issue here, a hurt feeling there, the introduction of a slight bit of envy over there simply do wonders to knock me down. How to overcome these things?

 

I can’t run off and become a hermit so that I do away with distractions (tempting as it may be at times) and focus solely on Him. I can however, start my day in prayer and worship of Him, and ask Him to make me aware of His surrounding presence (my own little retreat with the source of joy!), since the Holy Spirit indwells with me wherever I go. I can return to the wellspring of gladness with the passing of each hour with a simple reminder built into my work calendar. I can drink from the fountain of Living Water with each water bottle refill, satiating my body and soul at the same time. I just need to make these daily habits, and so can you, through the power of the Holy Spirit’s conviction and discipline.

 

 

Prayer Requests

  • For those who are facing health issues, and for their caretakers
  • For us to share the grace that we have been given with those whom we feel don’t deserve it
  • For those who tirelessly serve our Lord
  • For us to be on fire with the Holy Spirit!!

For those out there whose joy is constant—and you know who you are—I would love for you to share how you do it. Perhaps that’s something I can share in a later devotional!

 

Quotes

“Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that other love to speak to you.”

 

“If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do.”

 

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”   — Rumi