Thursday, August 7, 2014

The day I asked for Joy

I have found that the key to receiving joy is sacrifice.
Its a love language all on its own. The depth rarely understood.
And for that reason, true joy, in its intended form is rarely experienced.
In the moments that I felt I needed to be sacrificial, I have felt more love, more joy,
and more satisfied than the words on this paper could ever express.
I have experienced joy. But not at all in the way I thought I would find it.
It runs deeper and longer than any form of happiness that I have momentary felt.
It is and was an experience that I have personally received when I lived sacrifice out,
giving to God the same way He gave to me. 

With that, I will take you back a year, 
To the moment  I was praying, asking to have more joy from Jesus. 
Any time I have asked a question He has never failed to reply.
"Yes!" Jesus said." But are you willing to sacrifice?"
And at first, I wasn't. I really, really, really wasn't.
So much so that the thought of not doing it seemed more logical than to do it.
But, for the thing I asked, Jesus pressed in.

He told me a secret. He said "For many years you have asked me where the joy of your mothering came from. For many years you have counted that as part of the blessing you received from me when you became a mother. And it was. Partly. But more, more than that, it was the sacrifice you made 13 years ago. To follow me and my will. To sacrifice everything you knew, to let go of everything you had, and just trust that my will for your life exceeded the will of your flesh."

"And you had  a child. And He was the blessing, just as I have said that "Children are blessings from me" but the joy you experienced in mothering wasn't because I handed it to you like I hand out grace. Joy was produced in your life because you sacrificed many years ago. And although you forgot. I remember the pages in your life. The details. The day. Like it was yesterday. This year, again you asked joy. And again, I asked you to sacrifice. And again, it will produce joy. It always will. If you remember that, if you learn to live a sacrificial life, know that joy will follow."

"Joy runs on sacrifice the same way a car runs on fuel." 

My eyes were so full of tears by then that they streamed my face in shiny streaks of a personal memory, brought to life by the realness of the words and the vulnerable places they touched.

You see when I had my oldest, I was living a life that made sense to me. I did things out of the foolish feelings of a young teenager and the dangerous roads it took me on. I did what I wanted, instead of what I was taught or what I believed. I did that, until Jesus grabbed a hold of my life and gave me a promise. He gave me hope in my hopelessness and a choice to run after him. I have never regretted my choice and the direction I took. I have never regretted marrying my husband, regardless if I felt love. Or having a child regardless, of being ready. I knew what I had to do, and since then have often wondered where the joy for any of it came from. Mostly because I sensed in my spirit that it wasn't mine. It came from somewhere much greater. 

That specific moment always takes me back, and even though it's been many years, the memory of it continuously feels so fresh. It strikes a chord and I think it was supposed to. Because Jesus answered my request with another challenge. A sacrifice that required me to give away the one thing I constantly give Him praise about. Time was something I often oraise Him for. Time to make the right choices, time to watch my children grow, time to do what I love, and time for all the in between. The gift I find myself most receiving is time. And I was grateful. Extremely. It's just nice having it, to myself, and of course all the areas 'I' would choose to spend it. 

But it's never about us, or me. Gods plan always exceeds our own life. So when I asked for more joy, joy in areas that I didn't have joy in. Things like laundry, washing floors, and school lunches. Things like early mornings, sleepless nights, and compromises. Things that pass me by. Things that I don't pay attention to until the words coming out of my mouth are hostile, irritated, and short fused. Moments that I would regret, and ask God to smooth out. Things that I knew I had no reason to complain about, no solid justification of a trial, long suffering, or warfare. All I had on my beautiful plate was a wonderful life that God gave me, topped with every promise written in the Bible. We had shelter, food, and clothes. We had heat, health, and happiness.  We had family, laughter, and community. We had provision, purpose, and passion. And honestly, it was nice that it was ours. That it was mine.

Wasn't it enough that I gave Him all the praise, all the glory, and did I need to give it up I order to experience more joy?

Although I knew it was necessary, I didn't want to. I didn't want to do what He asked me to do. And I debated weather His challenge was even worth the sacrifice. Although if I were honest with myself, I knew it was. 

It was going to be hard. Especially when God asked me to put all of my needs aside and place the needs of someone else before mine. He told me to take what I held pride in, every accomplish I claimed and pass it along to someone else. He asked me to dedicate one day out of the week to help someone succeed. To genuinely want them to have more than I did, and watch them triumph even past my own capabilities. To do anything they asked, for as long as they needed, putting the needs of my family aside.

He wanted me to learn how to stretch my hand out further and beyond my own house. 

I guess when I prayed for joy, I didn't really understand what I was asking for. 
I didn't understand that real joy was one that came from Him. That descended from heaven and into my heart and washed away all logic, completely filling me with love. Sustaining, deep, and alive. Much more than any moment could ever do. 

So I began to pray. 

And for what seemed like the very first time, I asked for joy in its intended form.

And he gave me a name. 

And I began to pray for her. 

I prayed to love her as her, I prayed that I would have the attitude I needed to help along side of her, and I prayed that my time would always represent Jesus. Because I knew myself. I knew my weaknesses. And I knew my pride along with the areas it overshadows. And I was scared, nervous, and doubtful. But despite what I felt, I went and knocked on the door. And I shared my heart and the things it wanted. I shared Jesus, because He was the only reason I was even there. 

And she saw my heart. 

And she welcomed me.

From that day forward, every week from April to June, I went. I kept coming until she told me to  stop, and on June 20th I left the house with a bitter sweet feeling. Realizing how much more I enjoyed living out life when I lived it out in His will. How much more time, joy, satisfaction I received. And How much more I wanted it active daily in my life. 

And again I came to the seat of my God. Changed by obedience and the experiences they brought with them. 

"I think, I want to live a sacrificial life. Not in a moment of it. Not out of obedience to a prayer I prayed. But out of the sheer longing to spend every day of my life, living out your will."

To ask for his will, I knew it was going to take me on another journey. One that's oblivious to the future it holds or the promises it contains for my life. But, if I know anything, I know that I wouldn't have it any other way. Because 
Taking pleasure in giving away for the will that is Gods. That produces joy.
Taking pleasure in giving away despite what or how I feel. That produces joy.
Taking pleasure in giving away regardless of what makes sense. That produces joy.
Giving only to please Jesus and everything He represents,
That's what joy is.

Hope floats.