Monday, September 16, 2019

The gift is joy

“If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.” -John Piper

 *your joy will be full*

 That truth is the beauty of the life of a follower of Jesus.

 We’re all looking for joy right?
Does the truth really set us free?
 Is there goodness in this world?

 I have been with and I have been without, but the joy in Jesus never fades. Because when you believe that He is good and live like He is good and see that He is good, then that goodness will be your focus and nothing or no one can take that pure joy away...
 *Even giving up your life*

 “the path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life.”

 Life in Haiti is challenging but lately I’ve had such immense joy. To the point that I’m questioning that lovely fruit of the spirit in a wrongfully guilty sense.  Am I really allowed to find joy in the midst of poverty? Is it ok to fall in love with this life as a missionary following a crucified Savior? Aren’t I to suffer and surrender to Jesus everything? Does surrendering take away my joy as well? Does being happy mean I’m now just a humanitarian because sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice anymore because I’ve become accustomed to living without? Does loosing my life to Jesus actually mean I really am saving it? It is really possible to sacrifice my life and my wants and my desires and come out more joyful on the other end. Is it really possible to have a challenging life yet be filled with joy? Does His will uniquely become my will after giving into blind trust that He knows better?

Jesus said “whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” -Mark 8:35

 So to all those questions the answer is YES. In Jesus Christ. Through Him I find my joy. Through
Him I find my comfort... even through living without. Through every bloody battle and every steep mountain climb. Through every dark storm and every shaking fear. Joy is always lurking beautifully around the corner because joy is found in Jesus and He never turns the corner without me. And if Jesus is in me then I will never, should never lose my joy in Him.


 For the first time in 6 years of living on this island, I now have a television. Time and time again I hear missionaries not wanting to tell of their comforts over here in fear that their supporters will stop supporting because of the idea that we are to “live without” and because we’re put on a pedestal of perfecting the cost of sacrifice. But... I have a TV and it’s been a blessing. I get about 15 channels and I’ve caught myself turning it on and then working in the office just so that I could hear English in the background. (Y’all, no one at this ministry speaks English so the American tv channels have been therapeutic on lonely days!) I mainly only watch the news, and Jeopardy... (which reminds me why I dropped out of college.) I am mortified and shocked and most nights I can’t not watch the reality going on outside of my little bubble that I like to stay in. I lie awake pondering the fragility of the world after watching the breaking news and the urgent alerts flashing across the little screen of mine.
It all just seems so utterly bad. It makes me feel like there’s no more joy to be sprinkled around. Mass
murders, gang rapes, natural disasters. So much darkness. I’ve lived in a developing country (in other
words a “third world”) for 6 years now. I have seen quite a bit of hunger, disease, disaster, and injustice, but without that news channel I’ve been blinded to what’s going on around the world. Outside of my little world.      

 We desperately need Jesus. We desperately need to focus on love and grace and joy not despair. We need to see the mountains ahead of us as exciting trips to be taken hand in hand with Jesus, not turbulent disasters to be climbed alone like in the ferocious battle of trying to climb higher than your neighbor. But we can’t when we’re all just trying to save our own lives. We get blinded to the world around us that is hurting and aching with the need to know and love the King of the universe like we are privileged to. We try to work harder, save more money, climb the popularity ladder, look the prettiest, shine the brightest, save and savor the precious life given to us when in reality, we’re told to lose it.

 When you live for Jesus, your joy will be full.
 A crucified king. Born in a barn. Worked as a carpenter. Hated by many.

 When you serve this crucified King, your joy will be full. When you give your life away and surrender it all you’ll find the life you’ve always wanted. Full of overflowing, never ending joy. Joy should never be a guilty feeling. Joy should never make me question if I’m too comfortable as a missionary overseas. Joy is a gift. Joy is a beautiful gift from God when you set your heart on things    above. Joy is the essence of living a life in Jesus and for Jesus. Joy is the positivity of always looking   for the light in a dark and frightening world. Joy is not found in what I do or where I live. Joy is found in the heart. In the way a life is lived.
 Life is hard, but nothing will steal my joy.

 Lose your life to Jesus and you’ll end up saving it.