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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