Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Gift of Joy

Autumn is taking hold in my neck of the woods. The trees are flashing vibrant in reds and golds and browns. Subtly, the nip in the air has become noticeable and moved me to turn on the heat for the evening in my home. It is the time of the season where a wonderful evening can be had curling up on the couch in a blanket with a nice cup of hot chocolate and diving into a book. I have recently started reading the latest from one of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll. The book is entitled "The Owner's Manual for Christians". I have come to value his perspective and advice, both for teaching and encouragement, as well as for reminding and rebuking. Chuck's writing is the equivalent to me of lasanga in my list of comfort foods.

I was reading about essentials that need to be developed in the life of Christian. The specific essential that I was focussing on was joy. Joy is something that should be a descriptor of who we are. A marking of our spirit and attitude. However, what those of us plagued with depression and overall negativity, and who long for a joy-filled life must realize is, that joy is a gift that we need to accept. One paragraph especially resonanted with me regarding acceptance of this most wonderful gift:

"One of the ringleaders you'll need to do battle with sooner rather than later is that sneaky thief who slides into your thoughts and reminds you of something from the past that demoralizes you (even though it is over and done with and fully forgiven) or conjures up fears regarding something in the future (even though that frightening something may never happen). Joyful people stay riveted to the present -- the here and now, not the then and never."

Amen to that crucial sentiment. Joy cannot be expected to fall into your lap and cover you like a water balloon thrown down from above. It is something that we must reach out and grab, take ownership of and embrace.