Lately, I've been so sedentary that last night I promised myself that I'd ride my bike through our neighborhood this morning. It's not a lot of exercise, but it's better than nothing and it gets my blood moving. It also provides a little much-needed quiet time.
I was only half-way through my typical route when I began focusing on how hard it was. "Man," I thought, "I know I haven't ridden my bike in two weeks, but it shouldn't be this strenuous." The weight of my legs seemed to triple with every push of the pedals. My breath became labored. Feeling a sense of defeat, disappointed that I wouldn't finish my course, I cast my eyes down. That's when I discovered two flat tires.
I quickly turned home knowing I wouldn't make it much further, not to mention it's bad for the wheels to ride a bike with flat tires. That's when the analogy hit me. "Isn't this like the spiritual life? We don't get very far on "flat tires."
How often have I started coasting in my walk with Christ, like a bike effortlessly breezing downhill, because the previous time I invested in our relationship was enough to sustain me? Life is good, there's more joy, more peace, less agitation, less anxiety. You begin to think life will remain that way. Then you hit level pavement. You coast a little further. Then a hill (like cancer, divorce, job loss, death of a loved one) surprises you and there's no steam left to get you back up again. Eventually, you return to what worked before...dedicated prayer time, daily scripture reading, little talks with God throughout the day, and seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance... and wonder why you ever stopped to begin with. Why is there a tendency to stop pedaling?
The weight of the trials in life can become crushing when we neglect to fill our "spirit tanks" with the things of God. A lack of discipline unnecessarily complicates and tarnishes our days. Jesus said he came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Life is GOOD! Or at least it should be.
If you've been away from God, I encourage you to get back on track. Get excited that the God of the universe wants to spend time with you! He desires to guide your steps!
I became energized as I neared home this morning, knowing I'd fill my tires and biking would become easier and more pleasurable again. If you determine to strengthen your relationship with Christ, your life is going to become more pleasurable and fulfilling, too. Get pumped and ready for the ride of your life!
The word "JOY" abounds at Christmastime.
It's emblazoned on greeting cards and ornaments; written in lights and on iced cookies and cakes. Joy is associated with the announcement of Christ's birth, so it makes sense that we'd find it displayed more this time of year.
"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord." ~ Luke 2:10-11
What is joy?
Someone with a brand new podcast recently interviewed me about the release of Joy Is Contagious...Cancer Isn't. She logically asked me the question, "How could you possibly have joy after being diagnosed with cancer?"
In hindsight, I don't think my answer - which focused on having the peace of Christ - fit what she envisioned my response would be. Sadly, I bombed that interview but learned an important lesson that will help me in future chats with show hosts, and that is: joy means different things to different people. In the future, I think it would be helpful to define joy, even if I'm still learning what it is myself.
When I set out to write JICCI...
...my view of joy wasn't one of slap-happy giddiness. Though there are days that I'm annoyingly kind of like that due to my temperament.
To me, the person who possesses joy is like the Proverbs 31 woman who is clothed with strength and dignity and "can laugh at the days to come" or as the New Living Translation puts it, "laughs without fear of the future." EVEN if your future looks bleak to everyone around you, true joy enables you to face each tomorrow with a humble confidence. It's a peace, it's a joy, that overflows from our hope in Christ. Joy comes from trusting in Christ's goodness, knowing that everything He allows or does on our behalf benefits us in some way. As hard as it is to fathom, that means suffering in this life can bless us.
While looking for a succinct definition of joy, I found this from pastor and author John Piper: "Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world."
That seems straight forward, doesn't it? Actually, there's so much more to it that Piper does an entire video lesson on the definition of joy. He then follows it up with several more videos, one of which addresses the secret of joy in suffering. I'm sharing the first video here should you want to take a gander. Each one is only 10 minutes and worth your time.
I'm still learning about joy - what it means to be joyful when life gets hard. While I'm no expert, one thing I've learned is that genuine Christian joy can't occur without trust in Christ's goodness and love for us and that trust in Christ can't develop apart from Him. If we're not spending time with Him, then we're essentially sowing seeds of doubt. Those seeds eventually produce a message that can push us away from God, leaving us wondering if He ever really loved us in the first place. Despite what Christ's birth and journey to the cross tell us.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of joy. Please help me to experience it in my heart this Christmas season and beyond as I continue to rejoice in you. Amen.
Now, a little "Joy to the World" as you dwell on the meaning of JOY.
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.