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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trace It Back To The Source

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament…and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.” John 16:20

I’ve been contemplating a question lately—a question to which, as a Christian, I already know the answer. However, I’m puzzled. Why is it that I sometimes allow my focus to become distracted and before I know it, people and things of this world have usurped the position that rightfully belongs to God?

The question is: What is the source of my joy? God showers us abundantly with things that bring joy—family, our life mate, our children, friends, interests, accomplishments, beauty, serenity—all have the potential to give us a measure of joy. But where the joy itself come from?

It’s impossible to count the things that make us smile, but for a moment, narrow your focus on one or two things. For you, it might be your children, or spending time with an aging parent or grandparent. Perhaps it’s sweet memories, or a day spent with a dear friend, or maybe a goal you set for yourself that you finally reached. Whatever comes to mind, close your eyes and think about the joy that wells within you as you immerse yourself in the gladness. Listen as you recall the laughter. Invite the sweet memory of the kinship or the exquisite attraction to something so beautiful it evokes tears.

Where does that joy come from? Is it really of our own making? Does it depend on circumstances? If circumstances change, does that mean your joy dissolves? Since we are finite creatures, any joy of our own making is equally finite.

As a writer, I’m often caught up in research surrounding my setting or my characters. Digging into the past often uncovers facts or records that dictate I must change my story line. Even though I write fiction, if the story is to be accurate and realistic, I must base it on truth. Otherwise, the foundation is weak and cannot support the weight of the message I’m trying to convey to the reader. If the reader is to take something of eternal value away from the story, I cannot build it on a temporal substructure.

With this mindset, I asked myself the question: What is the SOURCE of my joy? Those things that bring joy and laughter, memories and solace, must have their origin in truth. They are God-given. Whether my joy is found in my spouse or the memories I have of my son, the laughter I share with my sisters, the pure delight I experience with my nieces and nephews, or attaining a mile marker in my life, all of them come from the same source. Without God’s hand on my life, without His blessing, His strength, His protection, His peace, His faithfulness, none of these joyful things would exist. Every one is a priceless gift, given from the One who is the ultimate source of all joy.

If one of these things is taken away, does that mean my joy is extinguished? Grief is a very real emotion. Loss can sometimes knock us breathless. But if my source of peace and joy begins with who I am in Christ, then that is a foundation that will never crumble, regardless of what or who is removed from my life.

Jesus said, “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I WILL SEE YOU AGAIN, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” John 16:22

The solidity and permanence of my joy depends upon its source. If that source is the unmovable, unshakable rock of my refuge (Psalm 94:22) then my joy is just as unmovable. Jesus says no earthly thing can take that joy away from me.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.