Have you listened to parts 1 & 2 of Phil’s presentation at Children’s Pastor’s Conference 2011, which are posted on this blog (yesterday’s and earlier today)? If not, I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to his story.
In part 1, Phil spoke about the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal.5:22). How he was so physically and emotionally spent, and so stressed out–doing the very things that he felt God wanted him to do. He started to observe that there was no evidence of the Fruits of the Spirit in his life. It caused him to question if, maybe, he wasn’t truly a Christian!!
Have you ever been there? On any level? Doing the work but too busy to feel His presence?– and left wondering, where’s God in all of this?
It could be as a home schooling mom or a caretaker of an elderly parent. It could be that you work with kids as a Sunday school teacher, or run a dress shop, are an executive or the assistant to an executive. Maybe you lead a small group Bible study. It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you hold. Do you sometimes wonder how you are supposed to lead others to Jesus when you’re feeling so empty inside? Most of us have been guilty of getting so wound up in doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing FOR God, that we tend to forget (even momentarily) that God desires to give us Himself–first.
It’s about relationship; God and us. The works / deeds comes after, not instead of.
My dad had a saying that I didn’t know was Biblical until a few years ago. I tend to get a little tightly wound. I think they call us, Type A’s. There were many times in my life where I literally bit off more than I could chew. I was stressed out, grumpy and sarcastic–while (proudly) busy doing something rather awesome FOR God. My dad would see my anxiety creep in and would simply say, “Don’t let Satan steal your joy, Lisa”.
I’m ashamed to admit that I would often roll my eyes when I heard those words. Loving words filled with such wisdom. I didn’t understand them. I was equating joy with happiness. And I would silently think, while nodding my head in false agreement, “I can’t be happy ALL the time, dad!”
I have learned, the hard way, that Joy is not an emotion, like happiness. Joy, in the Biblical context, is an attitude of the heart. As temporary as happiness is, joy is something that lasts.
Try this exercise; make a list of everything that makes you happy. It could be anything from hearing your favorite song on the radio to smelling something yummy cooking on the stove to seeing your adorable baby wake up from a long afternoon nap. Anything that makes you happy, list it.
What you’ll find is that this list is full of things that are only temporary, and that they will bring you only temporary happiness.
Joy is something that God bestows on us through the Holy Spirit. And yes, the enemy will try to steal it away. Slyly, Satan will tempt you with some of the very things that give you temporary happiness, but serve to separate you from God– and that beautiful relationship with Him. Causing us stress, guilt, anxiety…
My dad is gone now, but what he taught me about joy is something that continues to bless my daily life. I still struggle with biting off more than I can chew… and yeah, when I do, it does tend to stress me out. But I’m getting better at making my relationship with God primary to everything else I do.
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.
You can follow Lisa on twitter @lisastrnad and she blogs regularly at talking like a girl.