Wednesday, April 6, 2011

He whispers: reclaim your joy

When I first read through the Bible in my infancy in Christ, my first thought after completing the Old Testament was,"Whew! Following Christ will be a breeze compared to following all those rules." I think I pictured dancing through the rest of my life, unhindered by rules and regulations, free to enjoy life's pleasures as I followed Jesus toward the sunset of my time on earth.

Then the honeymoon period ended and God made it clear He had some work to do in me, to get rid of those things that would hinder me from following Him wholeheartedly.

Somewhere along this way of dying to self, I also killed my joy - or at least part of it. You see, legalism is a spiritual bondage that runs in our family and I struggled with how to follow Jesus without some hard and fast rules to live by. Like in the Old Testament. In fact, I even prayed many times for God to send me some guidelines I could follow so I would know if I was living in the right way. I ached over the fact that Christians today have no festivals or rituals to perform to get them right in God's sight. I had no concept of what it meant to have freedom in Christ.

Somehow, I began agreeing with the enemy to very careful about how I was living and started believing that enjoying life, having fun, would plant my feet firmly on the path to destruction.

Thankfully, God was not about to leave me in that valley and He began putting the desire within my spirit to experience the fullness of joy in Him. I am only at the beginning of this new journey in Him and it may be many years before I know what it means to live daily in the joy and freedom of Jesus. But I look forward to learning what it means to reclaim joy.

How about you? Have you struggled in this area too? Are you now on the other side experiencing joy daily? Please share your experiences that we might all be encouraged. :)

If, too, are in that valley of little joy, here are a couple Scriptures lift your spirits:
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galations 5:1 NIV)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galations 5:22-23 NIV, emphasis mine)

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