Choose Joy

A couple of days ago during a conversation with one of my closest friends, she asked what did I think would truly make me happy.  This question came after I complained how sad I had been. I didn’t have any idea how to answer.  I look at my life and from the outside looking in I should be happy.  My husband and my children are healthy.  We have shelter, abundant food, the necessities, and many luxuries.  But there are other things that just aren’t right and there are days my heart simply aches.

What I began to realize as I pondered this question was nothing tangible could make a difference.  Nothing I could measure or quantify would affect the way I had been feeling.  And then it hit me. I am happiest when my focus is not on me.  I am happiest when I have those sweet still moments with God and he fills me and prepares me for my days.  I am happiest when I work hard to be content in my circumstances and trust that what I see is not all there is.  I realized I am happiest not when I am “happy”, but when I choose joy.

Happiness and Joy are two very different beasts.  Happiness is based on the moment.  Happiness is based on something that happens.  If my mood is always based on what happens, I will always be all over the place searching. Happiness is of the flesh.  Joy is a fruit of the spirit .  It’s not something that changes with the wind, but a gift that is given and chosen.

I want to choose joy.  Not because I simply want it, but because I NEED it.  I need it for my marriage.  I need it for my children.  I need it for my purpose.  I will choose joy as if my life depends on it because it does!  When I choose joy, I’m not just choosing the right now moment to moment. I’m choosing the eternal.

Jesus came that we may have life (John 10:10).  He chose to lay down his life for us to give us what we could never get for ourselves. We make the choice to accept his gift when we accept him as our Savior.  In accepting him we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).  When I choose to live by the spirit and stop living in the temporary, I will eventually begin to produce the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5).    Joy is included in the list of fruit to which I will have access.

If I don’t choose it, I will continue to be stopped in my tracks instead of moving forward. What my self-centeredness desires is opposed to what the spirit desires for me. So what will make me happy?  Nothing.  What will give me joy?  Jesus.  Taking the focus off me and putting it right where it should be_GOD_ will allow me to position myself to receive the gifts outlined in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I know this is not going to be an easy assignment, but I also know I am very thankful for the grace of the Holy Spirit which means I will not be doing this by my own might.   I am thankful and expectant.  I look forward to seeing God’s fruit flourish in my life. Today I choose joy as I seek to live God’s way.

Be joyful always, and pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.  For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

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