Pain, discomfort, hesitation, drudgery, inconvenience? Please keep reading for joy.
I am thinking that first sentence was maybe not an attention grabber. Yet, I think we can all relate to experiencing these emotions and states of mind.
From a worldly point of view, we can just say “this is how life goes.” Or “it is just a part of life.” But I believe we can find joy in these times of low inspiration to action.
As a staff at my church, we have been studying Richard Foster’s: Celebration of Discipline; the Path to Spiritual Growth. For many people we do not practice the disciplines but they are tools to gain intimacy to God. The disciplines in the book include: Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study, Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service, Confession, Worship, Guidance, and today’s chapter on Celebration.
Celebration, as he states, joy, comes from obedience to Jesus Christ. When we think about loving others, bearing fruit, being thankful, rejoicing and other commandments it is easy to see how joy can be a result.
Richard points out that celebration, joy is an act of willful choice. It does not just fall upon us. We have to choose to be joyful.
If we can look at the trimming, our cutting back, as joy of what is to come– it will be easier to obey.
We can get caught up in how it is uncomfortable. We can wonder why : Why, God, Why? When, God, When? We can wonder “why do I have to give THIS up? It isn’t hurting anyone.” “Are you kidding me– this is going to be difficult and I really don’t want to do it.”
I know for me, I am called to give up slothfulness (laziness). So for me it is obvious how God can bring about more fruit if I do.
He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit. And he trims and cleans every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. John 15:2 ICB
I have not been totally faithful. I have not been obedient. I have not followed through with that which I know I am called to do.
Wanna know why? I do not have joy like I did in the beginning of the call/ opportunity. I have been waiting on that joy to descend on me, to inspire me to completion and faithful obedience.
But this book states that
joy is the RESULT of obedience— not the precursor.
Joy is a choice I am to make... and it should be an easy choice when I keep in mind that that which I am am being asked to give up will result in fruit for the Kingdom of God.
It matters not how small the contribution will be. God judges and asks not according to the world’s standards. We might think something is inconsequential– but we do not see the ripple effect. It is not our business as to the WHY we are asked to obey. It is not our business as to the scale nor the result.
I think if we keep in mind Romans 8:28: All things work together for the good, it will be easier for us to find joy when God is trimming back our hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
Probably one of the hardest things to do in pain, discomfort, hesitation, drudgery, inconvenience is to say “thank you God.” But we are called to always rejoice: Rejoice Always, Pray Without Ceasing, in Everything give Thanks; for This is The Will of God in Christ Jesus for You 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
What is God trimming on today? What is God clearing out of your life and asking you to make changes on? What are you walking through that is uncomfortable?
Just for today, consider it an act of celebration that will bring about joy as you obey. It just may make it easier for you to comply and be faithful long term.