This was the sweetest face I had ever seen. Five hours old, wrapped up like a burrito, this little one was the answer to years (and years) of prayers and dreams. November 1st was the day. The day I became a mother.
Eight years ago I stepped into that hospital room with much trepidation, so much unknown about the adoption and the days that would follow. But at my core, at the very center of who I was, it was undeniable. Pure joy.
I mean, seriously, right….
Pre-Facebook days, we sent photos via emails to everyone we knew. A good friend saw them and messaged back, saying “…great pics, should be in the Dictionary as an illustration for ‘Joy'”.
That day marked time for us, a day of joy we will remember forever.
What are those days for you? Those days of joy that you will never forget? Days of weddings, babies, vacations, mission trips, break-throughs…what moments do you remember with pure joy? Let’s go one step further – think of those joy-moments that happened even this past year.
To make sure we are on the same page, one point of clarity: we’re not referring to happiness. I’m talking about pure JOY. Because they are different, aren’t they? Take a moment to contrast those words in your mind: happiness and joy.
They actually feel different, don’t they?
When I compare happiness to joy there’s something inside of me that knows it’s different. There’s a depth to joy that happiness can’t match. Here’s a couple examples:
- I am happy when I’ve cooked a good meal (really, it’s a pretty big deal). But there is joy when there are others around the table to share it.
- Happiness is when my kids are not fighting. Joy appears when I see kindness in their eyes.
- I’m happy when I get a bargain at Target. There is joy when I “get” a truth from the Lord that heals a hurt in my life.
If there is one truth I want us to get this November, it’s this:
Jesus longs for us to have His joy.
“I have told you this so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:11 NLT
The NASB says “that your joy may be full“. That word full in the Greek means “to fill to the top, so that nothing shall be wanting”. Filled to the top…with joy.
If you’re like me, I’ve heard that phrase “the joy of the Lord is my strength” for years. I’ve sang songs about it. My kids have sang songs about it. I’ve heard messages, sermons and devotionals on it. I’ve read that it’s a fruit of the Spirit, and probably falls into the category of a “true, noble and just” thing to think on (Phil. 4:8).
But do I believe it? Do I live as if God’s joy all but overflows in me? If I’m not filled with His joy, then what exactly am I filled with?
I love this quote by Ann Voskamp…
No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.
When I met my daughter for the first time, nothing but joy could have spilled out. Joy enraptured me and filled every thought, every word and emotion.
But not every day is as defining , not every day is miracle-filled.
Most days are just the everyday-kind-of-days, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the messy.
What spills out on those everyday-kind-of-days? What spills out towards my spouse, my children, to those one-anothers around me? What fills me?
The JOY Challenge
As you step into November and move towards Thanksgiving, ask the Lord this question:
What fills me?
And you know what, ask it a lot. Take notice at how you respond, or react, to others. Observe what emotions take over or come out.
If we’re honest, we probably already know, without even asking. But isn’t there something comforting, healing, in the asking? When I bow before Him to ask, and He shines light on my darkness, Life begins. My confession, wrapped together with His grace, allow for the lies to be loosened and His truth to transform.
Ask for Him to show you what fills you. If it’s not His joy, call it what it is. And begin to bring that before His throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).
Then ask Him to re-fill you with His joy, just as He has intended.
And watch how He begins to do it.
I am looking so forward to spending November with you. Thanks for being along for the ride as we seek His JOY.
Take time to read about His JOY – John 15:1-11, John 17:13, Nehemiah 8:10
Take the Joy Challenge and ask others to join you throughout the month of November. By signing-up, you will receive each post automatically.