Changing My Mind

“There is joy in serving Jesus as I journey on my way.  Joy that fills my heart with praises every hour and every day.

There is joy, joy, joy in serving Jesus–joy that throbs within my heart every moment every hour as I draw upon his power.

There is joy, joy, joy that never shall depart.

There is joy in serving Jesus–joy that triumphs over pain.  Fills my heart with heaven’s music till I join the glad refrain.

There is joy in serving Jesus as I walk alone with God.  Tis the joy of Christ my Savior who the path of suffering trod.

There is joy in serving Jesus—joy amid the darkest night. For I’ve learned the wondrous secret and I’m walking in the light.” —Oswald J. Smith

I’m joining the Faith Jam again this Thursday.  Today’s question is “How do I experience joy?”  When I read the question two thoughts rushed into my mind jostling for primacy.  One was this hymn—at least the first line of it.  The other was a deflated, “Ugh—not often enough to tell you.”

The hymn is correct—there is joy in serving Jesus.  There’s no doubt about it.  There’s a sense of delight that God chooses to use me to accomplish some of his purposes.  Wow.  More often than delighting me, that knowledge humbles me.   In my mind there’s a huge weight of responsibility that comes with serving Jesus.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying.  I love what I do, but I tend to let the responsibility interfere with the joy.  Just this afternoon my thinking was challenged on this.  I am convicted that I see life as God saved me, he sees me as complete before him, and I have to keep working not to disappoint him–to keep his good opinion of me.  There’s not much joy in that, is there?

(I’m not disputing the saved and positionally perfect  while still being sanctified stuff . . . no worries.  I’m not here to debate theology, either)

Ruth Van Reken said today, “What if we approach life from the other way around?  What if we see that God looks at us as starting from a place of total depravity and he cheers us on with every step we take closer to him?”  That would certainly make my life much more joyful!

First StepsThe picture that keeps popping into my mind is of a baby trying to move from cruising to walking.  Faltering steps–even the apparent thought of a step–is cheered by all around, but especially by the baby’s parents.  When the child starts a step and winds up sitting down instead of moving forward, nobody says, “Yeah, well . . . I knew you couldn’t do it, Loser.  Try harder next time.”  No–there are willing hands to help the baby to her feet, words of encouragement to get her to stand on her own and take a step forward and often a hand or two to help her maintain balance so walking is possible.

The cheering and encouragement don’t stop when walking becomes as second nature as breathing.  Learning the alphabet, sounding out words, riding a bike, completing hard tasks, playing wholeheartedly in a sport, mastering a song, not giving up—all of these accomplishments are greeted with enthusiasm and recognition at different points in our lives.  While I might find it strange if you were to applaud my ability to recite the alphabet today, I appreciate the encouragement you may give if I’ve grouped those letters together in a way that made you think or feel in a new way.

If I can keep this new paradigm in the forefront of my thoughts, I think I’ll taste joy more often.  I think I will appreciate more deeply the joy that comes in serving Jesus and not just the responsibility.  I want to remember that the Father is cheering me on every step I take closer to him.  I want to change my mind to a new way of thinking.

What about you–how do you think of  Joy? How do you experience it?

photo courtesy of ekinarabaci

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10 Responses to “Changing My Mind”

  1. allieApril 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    I like that image of a father cheering his kid on.
    Joy seems awfully hard to understand, as in: what does it actually mean? But I think that I experience it the most in the moments when it suddenly strikes me or I suddenly grasp that God loves me, how deep that love is, and that it is true and not based on myself, as inexplicable as that may seem.

  2. SherylApril 7, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Allie–that makes so much sense to me! I’ve always heard that the difference between joy and happiness is that happiness is based on what’s going on around you, while joy flows from within you. I think your experiences with joy fit the definition quite well. The dictionary defines it differently, but I think you’ve got it. It’s a bit inexplicable and a bit definable all at the same time.

  3. Lisa notes...April 7, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    It’s been interesting as I read around to see that several of us want to have more joy. I’m looking to find more joy in the serving too.

  4. SherylApril 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Thanks for the heads’ up, Lisa. I haven’t been able to read anything yet, but your comment is bringing 100 questions to mind.

  5. Faith Barista BonnieApril 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I think you are right. The challenge of joy is experiencing it while still being responsible and having to take care of the everyday tasks. It’s almost like waiting for the tides to come in. Sometimes, it takes longer than usual. Thanks for sharing from your current season of joy. And I love hymns too. 😉 Love how they pop up.

  6. SherylApril 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I love that analogy of the tides, Bonnie. Thanks! Sometimes joy is at high tide, and sometimes it’s at low tide . . . but it’s still going to be there.

  7. RobertMay 18, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Greetings from Wordwise Hymns. Thanks for the excellent essay. It caught my eye because I posted an article on Oswald Smith’s hymn this morning. You’re right in indicating that the Christian life and service for Christ is a mixture of joys and sorrows. My own 40 years of full-time ministry confirms that. The Apostle Paul understood it too. He wanted to finish his service for the Lord with joy (Acts 20:24), but experienced sorrow as well (Rom. 9:1-3). And sometimes we labour on with joys postponed, or anticipated up ahead (Heb. 12:2). God bless.

  8. SherylMay 26, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Hi, Robert!

    Thanks for stopping by! Christian service is such a mix of highs and lows—and sometimes all at the same time. May you know God’s deep and rich blessing as you write and work for him!

  9. CherylJanuary 1, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    You’re right. This post did deserve more interaction than it got. I don’t remember reading it when you published it…
    I think I agree with Allie about joy. I experience it sometimes when people pray for me and give me pictures or words that God gives them for me, and I am simply overwhelmed by God’s inexplicable love.
    Also, it’s knowing deep down that you are doing, in any given moment, what you were made to do…
    Being with good friends for a nice long time so that we can talk about what really matters. That gives me joy too.
    Bless you my friend.

  10. SherylJanuary 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks for checking out the old post, Soul.

    Knowing that you’re doing what you’re created to do is definitely a source of joy–the quote from Chariots of Fire attributed to Eric Liddell–“God made me fast. When I run, I feel his pleasure.” (I just found out that he didn’t say it–it’s just part of the movie script. Sigh. That’s disappointing.)

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