Thursday, January 20th, 2011...7:33 am
Joy, Sly and Sneaky
I found out that real joy—the “joy made full” that Jesus puts in me—doesn’t come when I get what I want. It comes when I do what God wants.
I’ve found that the deepest joy is borne by obedience.
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept the Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
This is My commandment, that you love one another.
Jesus said things for the purpose of His disciples’ joy! He wants me to have joy, and in these words He very simply spells out the way, like jotting one-line directions on a scrap of paper:
To get to Joy:
Obey My commandments. (No turning right or left.)
This way of thinking about obedience—it’s a little unexpected, isn’t it? I once asked a group of women, “Quick, just off the top of your head, what words and images come to mind when you think of OBEDIENCE?” What do you associate with obedience?
Some of their responses:
“Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am.”
A tuxedo-clad, stone-faced butler.
Soldiers obeying orders.
No one mentioned “joy,” yet Jesus made a direct link between obedience and joy. Maybe we don’t typically make the obedience-joy connection because the joy that follows obedience, follows it stealthily. Maybe when I’m obeying God, the joy is not immediately apparent because it’s sneaking up on me.
Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the Lord your God.
Listen to that! The blessings will come upon you. They will overtake you.
“Come upon” you! “Overtake” you! What a scene that puts in my head! Here I am, walking in obedience. I simply hear the Lord’s words and obey, keeping my eyes forward. Behind me, yet undetected, are the blessings. They are like someone suppressing a giggle, playfully sneaking up on me, catching up to me, coming upon me. And then . . .
Gotcha! The blessings have caught up! They come upon me! Now, instead of the stealth and silence, I hear out-loud laughter. Ha! Got you! And I am overtaken. The blessing is so great, it is overwhelming. I was unaware that the blessings were back there, following me, pursuing me. Now, the blessings have not only caught up to me but passed me up. They have gone beyond me and I am overtaken, as if I were a goal to be achieved, a prize to be won.
I have known this kind of blessing that overwhelms. I am so blessed my heart and soul are near bursting. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me . . .
I didn’t even know that the blessings were back there, following me. I simply walked in obedience, waiting on the Lord in surrender and in trust. Before I was aware of them, it was a painful road, lonely and desperate. But I kept walking. Then (!) the blessings came, and they got me. I have known it. Yes, I know it.
Lord, I know this kind of blessing and joy. I will remember, and the memory will keep me walking on the road of obedience.
(Part of the above was originally posted on April 16, 2009.)