Friday, January 1, 2016

Joy is Always Near

This series on Trust will feature beautiful pictures by my friend Bethanne Runyan, a gifted photographer and daughter of the King who has graciously allowed me to use her art to embellish my words.  THANKS Bethanne!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4: 4

As I mentioned yesterday, I’d like to usher in the New Year with a series of posts on the topic of trust. This series will be based on several segments from the Book of Philippians, particularly chapter 4. Today, January 1st, I think it is appropriate to start with this verse that encourages us to rejoice.

The first day of the New Year is always, at least for me personally, a day of mixed emotions, so I find it very fitting that when I woke up, my younger son Dylan was watching the movie Inside Out by Disney Pixar. If you haven’t watched this movie, I encourage you to spend the time and see it. I think it will be a well invested 1 ½ hour of your life.

Without going into much detail, one of the themes the movie addresses is the reality that growing up means our emotions become more complicated. We go from the simplicity of an infancy filled with joy to the intensity of a messy adolescence until someday; we land on the complexity of adulthood which involves a life colored by a wide range of emotions. Every circumstance, as we grow up and mature, is not mono-emotional. Everything we go through as “grownups” is tinted by a multitude of emotions which make every situation unique and defining.

For instance, an even that we think of as tragic or sad, may be just the prelude to inexplicable joy and peace. Fear may give way to strength. Need may show us the way to provision. Failure might be just what we need to become humble.

As children of God we know these things. We also know that no matter what…no matter the circumstance-induced emotions we might feel at any given time, joy is always possible…because joy is a state of mind. Joy is the result of a mind and a soul filled with the presence of God and directed by the Holy Spirit. Joy is the decision we make to see life as a series of adventures that we get to embark with Jesus at the wheel, rather than as a pit of darkness that we are trying to just survive. Joy is the assurance that our name is written in the Book of Life. Joy is knowing that the same God who made the galaxies, knows our name and holds us in the palm of His hand. Joy is accepting that it is not by our own doing, but by what Jesus did that we are saved. Joy is knowing that no matter how many times we mess up, fail, stumble and fall…He is there, He’s got us, and He will never let go.

Paul tells us to rejoice “always” not just when things are going our way…but ALL the time…even when we are sad, afraid, angry or disgusted…the bright tint of joy can always be found behind every memory.

I pray this first day of 2016 that the Lord will fill us with His presence, because that’s all we need to remember that joy is always near.

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