Joy: Buried Treasure

It was the night of bright lights and bling. New Years Eve – everywhere we looked there was glitter and sparkle and shine. Every particle of air held excitement and ice melted from sheer energy. There were smiles and hugs and the air was electric with celebration! No matter if 2016 was a good year to hang onto with tenacious enthusiasm or one that we couldn’t wait to vanish into history, the beginning of a new year sparks hope. Parties and celebrations ignite happiness and flame the atmosphere with joy.  

I wonder though, what happens now when the lights have gone out, the fireworks are over, the confetti has fallen to the ground in dusty clumps and the glitter is washed down the drain. Is that the end of happiness? Is that it for joy? It is, if joy is dependent on our circumstances.

I’ve been thinking.  Special events bring excitement into our lives; they’re blessings and we treasure those moments when our hearts feel happy. But the moments don’t last and as they fade, so does the feeling we confuse with joy. Joy is heaven-made. It’s part of our spiritual DNA. “The humble will be filled with fresh JOY from the Lord. Isaiah 29:19 [NLT] Doesn’t that sound like our joy comes from God and not from ourselves or any other source?

Happiness is homemade. It’s part of our human experience. Many years ago I read one of those sayings on the side of a coffee mug that said, “If everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.” That’s a pretty good description of life, isn’t it? We’re on our journey for a while taking the scenic tour, a few curves a few hills – we’re comfortable, we’re happy. But then life gets really tough and the pleasant journey becomes a dangerous expedition. Thrown off our path we’re driven into the deep end of the ocean or feel like we’re hanging by our fingernails on the side of a cliff. Not our happiest moments, are they? There is no bling, there is no glitter, the light is gone. The last thing we feel capable of is being happy.

How often do we say it? “But Lord, I’m not happy. I’m tired of trying so hard to get through this. And Lord, in case you haven’t noticed, this ‘thing’ is getting me down. Somedays I feel so sad I don’t want to move.” Do you remember Psalm 23:1? The Lord is my shepherd … This isn’t a verse tucked into the Bible so we could envision a calm, serene flowing brook surrounded by wild flowers. Shepherds worked hard, trudged through brambles and mud to keep track of their sheep. And they protected every single sheep from any harm that threatened them. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Do you trust your shepherd? you-make-known-to-me-the-path-of-life

Jesus reminds us that nothing can take our joy away from us because he is the source of our joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Our circumstances may make us sad, they may exhaust us, we might feel like we’ve been plunged into darkness but it’s in our darkest days that the tiniest light appears brightest. The light of the world is Jesus (John 8:12); it’s he who is the source of our joy. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; as I walk with You the pleasures are never-ending and I know true JOY and contentment.”

We have to look for joy, like excavating for buried treasure because that’s what it is. Joy is a gift we choose to open over and over.  Joy is our light even when the bling of the world is gone. Look for the joy because it won’t come find us.

To choose joy means we choose God, we choose to fill our minds and fill our hearts with his words. Matthew 12:34 describes it so clearly. “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Joy might not be a natural response to a broken spirit when days seem dark, but if you are God’s child, you already have unlimited, renewable joy. Nahum 1:7-8 tell us that God comforts his troubled children who put their trust in him. “The Lord is good. He protects those who trust him in times of trouble. But like a roaring flood the Lord chases his enemies into dark places and destroys them.” That’s God. He protects, and destroys the enemy that tries to steal your joy.

Lord, your word says you’ve given me an unlimited supply of renewable joy, but I’m having a hard time finding it. Please be a light on my pathway to peace and joy. Flood my heart with so much joy here is no room for darkness. God, I ask you to change my circumstances, Lord. But if you choose to grow my character through them, then please change me. Change my attitude, change my heart, change my life. Make me a faithful steward of your gift of joy. Amen

Treasure or Reject – What’s in your box?

OK- Everybody up Rise and Shine It’s a new day.  It’s Saturday. It’s the weekend. Up! Up! Up!

Today, I woke up and … well, and that’s a good thing.  Right? Feet on the floor – I can walk. Eyes open wide – I can see.  Warm house, hot water, clothes to wear, plans for the day, food to eat, COFFEE . . . I am blessed!

If I had a box to hold all my blessings and another box to hold all my aggravations, the blessing box would be bigger, lighter, and shine brighter than the tarnished box holding all the rejects. Sometimes at the end of a long, tedious day when circumstances were the wrong shape to fit in the blessing box, that tarnished box seems to overflow its capacity.  Bring on the night – so we can have a new day!

So here’s a prescription to fill up the treasure box to overflowing and clamp the lid on that box of rejects.  Begin today with right thinking and a prayer to get started with a treasure to put in the blessing box.  Maybe back in the Old Testament, they had the right idea. Here’s what it says in 1st Chronicles 23:30 “They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.”  Let’s try that.   Lord, this is a brand new day. All that stuff that happened yesterday is history. I have a vision for today and it doesn’t include annoyances from the past.  The day ahead is unknown to me, but you, Lord, know all about it. Whatever happens, please guard my thoughts and make them honorable because I know every action, every word, and every attitude starts there. Please keep me focused on things that store up treasures in heaven. Be my shield and defense against the enemy of my soul who wants me to live in regret and defeat.  It’s a new day, Lord. Be my everything so I can do what you want me to do today. Amen  Isaiah 33:2 “Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”

I keep coming back to this verse in 2 Corinthians because I love the analogy of how treasures can be stored. We all have treasures, some of which are thoughts or memories.  Others that are more tangible and can be held in our hands and seen with our eyes. We treasure our relationships.  Treasures. 2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

What will it take today to add to the treasure box and bury the reject box far from view? What does it take to truly live?  Today there is nothing that God and I can’t do together – but I have to let Him lead while I follow.  1 Timothy 6:19 “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”   That takes faith, friends.  And that’s what faith can do.