Embracing Joy

I am so impressed with my sister- and brother-in-law’s practice of choosing an annual theme for their family. It’s a tradition yielding much fruit. Last year, they chose to focus on “Leadership.” On Christmas morning, they and their now-grown children shared what God had taught them about that concept.

For 2008, they chose the theme of “joy.” I’m embracing that, too. There are joy-stealers at every turn, and we have to choose joy proactively and passionately if it is to survive. We sing, “Joy to the world” when we remember God’s great gift of Jesus at Christmas-time. We also know that joy is part of the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)—but I’ve discovered that when we don’t cultivate that gift, it won’t thrive in our circumstances. We have to act on joy.

We cultivate joy as we celebrate who we are in Christ and when we dwell in Him (John 15:1-11; Psalm 16:11). We cultivate joy as we seek the best in and for others, helping them find joy (2 Corinthians 1:24b). We cultivate joy when we gratefully remember the blessings of God, but we also appreciate His presence in our “day of adversity” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). We cultivate joy when we realize how many times our Redeemer has rescued us from our own foolish choices. We cultivate joy through submission and obedience to God’s will—regardless of our feelings. In that regard, we can have joy when happiness eludes us and tough times come (I Peter 1:7-8; 4:12-13). Jesus is our prime example of this. He, “for the joy” set before Him, endured the cross and separation from the Father so we could enter into His eternal joy (Hebrews 12:2; Jude 24). In the midst of everything, we are strengthened by His joy (Nehemiah 8:10).

I have learned much about joy, and I have much to learn. So I will choose, embrace, and cultivate it in the year ahead, and I encourage you to join me in this Joy Adventure.

1 comment:

CB said...

What a great idea, Dawn, to choose a theme for the year. We all need to "embrace JOY!" That's what the world will see.