Fullness of Joy

31 Jan

DSC_0126crop72For the last few weeks we have taken the time to consider some of God’s wonderful promises. It encouraged me to pause and reflect on them. I hope my musings have been an encouragement to you, as well. But I venture a guess that the promises will be forgotten again in the next season of stress in our lives unless we have this one tool in place. Without it, the promises can fall to the level of sayings from Poor Richard’s Almanac or other quotable quotes. The special ingredient is the body of believers ministering to one another in love.

I have it from top authority:
John records Jesus explaining the love between him and his Father. Jesus expands that to include any who claim to be in him. Taking that love and sharing it between others, he claims, makes us overflow with heavenly joy. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you… You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:9-17).

And:
Paul expounds in 1 Corinthians 13 on what that love looks like worked out in everyday life. Because the whole chapter is devoted to this subject, it’s known as The Love Chapter in the Bible. God has designed that we live not alone, but in community—or more precisely in family. Nothing reveals that as much as when we slug our way through difficult times.

My failure, allegorically speaking:
I think I have a history of handling hard circumstances much the same way whether the trials are small or major traumas like we went through at the end of last year. Looking back at that time, I liken it to being handed a basketball and told to carry it to the other end of the court. I started out with no hindrance. But then, more balls were handed to me and the court was filled waist deep in water. The resistance of the water made the way tougher, but I was making it. The challenge was not too great.

The Plot Thickens:
About a quarter of the way I notice something strange happening. The water was thickening. My progress slowed. I didn’t know how long I could continue like this and still juggle the balls without dropping one.

The Trap Is Set
Half-way down the court I came to a stop. I discovered the water had turned to jello. Every movement I attempted was absorbed by the rubbery substance. I could still inch forward but my strength was soon spent. My mind shifted from the goal to my frustration. Fighting the temptation to give up became a mountain in my way.

Explanation:
At least

that’s the way it felt. In small measure, I reached out to my church family. Their prayers, inquiries about how things were going, and their notes of encouragement helped us through it, but according to Jesus’ words, I needed more love. The church family was not at fault in this. I received as much as I was willing to allow. I shut off the possibility of having my joy made full through thoughts of not being worthy, of faultless guilt, and of stubborn self-determination.

Perhaps you remember this chorus

Perhaps you remember this chorus

Lesson Learned:
In hindsight, I see myself as a robber. I robbed myself of the joy that is mine through God’s promises and through a broader ministry of love in the family of God. I robbed that family of the love exchange as God designed it to be. His promises are great, but his love expressed through and to one another releases more life and strength. If it is your time (and I’m pointing my finger at me) to need a shoulder to lean on, don’t sink into a lonely pity party. Fall back and let the family catch and cradle you. Receive strength from them through their love and faith. When you can do that, you will be on the road to experience fullness of joy.

 

Don’t forget to share this with someone if they come to mind. And, if you would like to receive notices of future blogs, please click on the follow button on the right. Thanks, and blessings.

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