Finding Joy Again

janethilts.com

janethilts.com

Exodus 35:21, 26, 31, 34

“Everyone whose heart stirred him to action and everyone whose spirit was willing came and brought the offering for the LORD for the work of the tent of meeting, for its service and for the holy garments.  26  And all the women whose heart stirred them to action and who were skilled spun goat’s hair.  31 He has filled with the Spirit of God – with skill, with understanding, with knowledge, and in all kinds of work.  34 And he put in his heart to teach.”

Exodus 36:2

“Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person in whom the LORD had put skill – everyone whose heart stirred him to volunteer to do the work.”

Romans 12:11
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

So often, Christian workers get burned out and lose their passion.  I’ve been there – have you?  I love this snapshot of God’s people, filled with passion, calling and skills by God, joyfully bringing their capabilities and serving God. They recognized that their talents were from God and wholeheartedly offered their skills to Him.  It reminds me of when I was first saved.  The people joyfully served, the worship was vibrant and everyone was excited to be alive in Christ.  I have often wished that my life would be characterized by those beginning days and years in Christ.  I daresay that the same feeling I recall at that time has waned . . . tempered with harsh realities encountered in this life and the reality of the church not being perfect as was once naively believed.  But my faith has also deepened, along with my understanding and love for the LORD.

I deeply love the LORD and weep each day when I write these blogs and consider how great and good God is, but admittedly something is different.  The deliverance we experienced was supposed to mean everything would always work out as we expected, right?  How do we get that passion reignited? Human nature has a tendency to be excited about anything new.  But when time passes and we are numbed by the presence of sin and its affect on people around us as well as ourselves – broken lives and a diminished utopia, we can become disillusioned and lose our joy.    Once disillusionment sets in, the once rose-tinted glasses can easily become a pessimistic view – or not.  Depending on what our focus is – abundant life in Christ or a comfortable life without troubles in America – will determine whether we truly experience and comprehend the definition of happiness in Christ.

Examining God’s people in Exodus, it is apparent that gratitude, expectations and motivation each played a big role in their passion.  It does not mention that they had an expectation or motivation to ascribe toward higher positions within the church, just thankfulness and contentment exuded by their manner in which they served.  Notice that these people had a calling on their heart – they were not necessarily there every time the church door opened, or serving in every capacity, but knew instinctively what God has called them to and did it with joy.  Sometimes we forget the simplicity of the Gospel and our salvation and lose sight of what really matters.

But perhaps the view that was darkened by life’s reality can actually see clearly, after all.  Maybe joy looks different and feels different than an initial shallow joy untested by life’s challenges.  Thinking that life should be perfect after coming to Christ sets us up for disaster, but joy looks different to a mature believer who has drawn nigh to the living God.  Continuing in that joy is the key.  Knowing God’s enablement and strength when life tries your very soul is the greatest peace and joy on earth.  Remembering our initial joy in Christ is a great catalyst to reignite our fervor, but focusing on the hope we have in Christ can help us rise above present circumstances into our reality in Christ.

The One Who finished the work will complete it in us, but sometimes when hard times crash in and distract you, it can be hard to see past the valleys.  This earth is temporary – may we not waste our life away regretting or thinking things should feel or look differently.  Looking to the example of those early Christians and asking God to restore the joy of our salvation back to us reminds us that our initial joy was never dependent on earthly happiness.

Lord, forgive when we take for granted Your salvation and grow lukewarm or forget how amazing You are.  Ignite us with a passion for You and Your people all for Your glory.  Help us to know our calling and to obediently serve You in a manner worthy of You.

Life in Death Part two – Finding Freedom

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Writing 101, Day Thirteen: Serial Killer II

Earlier in the course, you wrote about losing something. Today, write about finding something. For your twist, view day four’s post and today’s post as installments in a series.

PART TWO – Finding Freedom

The evidence of a disaster was all around us.  Shattered dreams and broken lives.  The reality of our circumstances was to hard to accept, but it was true.  The father of my children was removed within a day of the Lord revealing his sin.  The person we thought we knew was someone completely different.  What now?

Our innocence lost, it would seem there was no hope of recovery.  But sometimes you have to get lost to be found.  Sometimes what you thought was good was not what it seemed.  Perspectives change in a flash, when the reality of the damage becomes clearer.  No, we were not suffering in vain –  we were delivered.

In place of a facade of  a perfect family that we thought we had, there was raw pain but there was healing and in that place of suffering our eyes were opened.  Opened to the enslavement we had been living under and to the subtle underlying deception that encompassed us.  We had lost much; all we knew and trusted was blown away – but we had found something far greater – our freedom, wisdom and insight.

PART ONE (From Day 4 – previously posted)

Family pic serial killer 1

When I was a girl, I dreamed about happily ever after.  Guess it depends on what the definition of happiness is.  If happiness was defined as being happily married, having healthy children, wealth and minimal problems in your life, then I do not know whether anyone will every achieve perfect tranquility and bliss, known as happiness.  But for a short while I thought I had it.  Despite a bumpy childhood, I thought I could have the perfect family and lasting joy.  Then the enemy of our souls came and snatched it away . . . seemingly.

My family would never be the same, and the father of my children was to blame.  The death of our family as we knew it was agonizing and there was no escape from the mark it had left.  The signs of death were all around . . . functioning on a normal level was hampered, and life just seemed numb.  The children and I clung to one another, knowing God was going to take our pain and use it for good.

But then, what did normal look like?  How do we move on from this place of death?  Perhaps the death of what we idolized was more painful than we could imagine, but would also open our eyes to what in fact was wrong with what we were considering happiness…