Chasing Joy (Sunday Thoughts Link Up #31)

ACTS 2:25-28

David said about him:

“I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

ROMANS 15:13

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy is a strange thing. We run after it. So. Hard. We want to feel that lightness of heart, the exhilaration of it, like a free fall roller coaster or open road with open plans. We work for it. We put away money for vacations and retirement and “rainy days” so we can stay ahead of the game. We count down to every holiday, remembering eight-year-old joy when you got THE BEST Christmas present, seventeen-year-old joy at the perfect date for the Fourth of July cookout, thirty-year old joy at hosting your first Thanksgiving. And then you try to chase that feeling again and again.

Which is why joy is so frustrating for me. It’s paradoxical. The faster I run at it, the farther it retreats. The food never tastes the same the second time around, the people at the gathering are not the ones of years past. I want to make it magical, but it feels like cheap card tricks. The roller-coaster/road trip joy only comes from loss of control. It’s so much less fun to be the one at the gears. I recently experienced joy…a pure moment of light-headed happiness upon signing the contract for my book, my heart’s goal. Yippee! Pause for breath. And then the world came crashing in. Deadlines to edit the past and pressure to write for the future. I want it all. But I also want joy. And joy is more than payment upon receipt.

Perhaps you are familiar with these lines from U2,

“I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I’m still running.”

It’s a gospel song that is best heard with Bono rocking along with the Harlem Gospel Choir. It’s beautiful. It shows the ache of hearts still searching. The real joy, of course, will come much later in heaven when lows don’t have to follow highs. The object of joy will be right in front of us, touchable, tangible.

But there can also be joy now. Joy that pairs with peace, as Paul says in Romans, and joy that comes with hope, as David sings in the Psalms. That joy, a restful joy, is what I want. And I think I can get it, or at least notice it more, if I stop trying to manufacture it. It’s why it seems we felt it more as a child. We stumbled upon it around every turn, because we weren’t chasing it. Let it come and let it go. It will return more easily if you can just grant God providence over your life. I think this is what sat with me longest, when the moment of pure joy skittered away at the sight of deadlines and pressure. The joy will come again, like a deep breath, and the worries of now will run on by, if I continue down the path knowing full well I don’t have to pave it with my own merit.

Sunday Thoughts Link Up!

It’s time for another Sunday Thoughts Link-Up! I know there are many out there with wisdom that could encourage all of us. As long as it’s Biblically-based, I’d love for you to join up and then read and comment on what others have shared. Please also leave a comment here. Think of this as a Sunday morning community group that comes to you. And grab the button if you like…

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