I want you to think of something that you really wanted for Christmas when you were a kid. Make sure you choose something that you actually ended up receiving! It should be the kind of gift that made it difficult for you to sleep on Christmas Eve. You couldn’t wait for it. When you discovered that very gift waiting for you in the morning you began hyperventilating and being terribly overdramatic. (Wait, was that just me?) Ok, have you picked something yet? Did you choose your most-desired Christmas gift? Good.
New question: Did you wake up thinking about that Christmas item this morning?
Isn’t it amazing that something that held so much JOY all those years ago is now lost and forgotten? Maybe the memory of it put a smile on your face. But the truth is that stuff (no matter how cool in the moment) just doesn’t bring lasting joy. But what about the huge trampoline that was waiting in the backyard in 4th grade? I don’t think I even asked for it. It was an AMAZING surprise that brought joy to my siblings and I (and let’s face it, the whole neighborhood) for years. But like everything else, the trampoline wore out, fell apart, and eventually made it’s way to the trash. Even if you enjoyed your favorite item for a few years, it probably doesn’t hold the same daily joy for you now.
So if we want joy like Christmas morning, do we simply continue to replace the old stuff with the new stuff?
I would challenge that rather than changing out our stuff, we need a change of heart and mindset. God is always in the business of changing us from the inside out. He desires for us to find real and lasting joy- something that’s done by spending time in His presence. It’s totally contrary to the solution the world would give us.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2.
I tend to lose joy when I put all the focus on me. Joyless living is all wrapped up in self-focus and selfishness.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4
We fill up on joy when we fill up on the good stuff. Satisfaction and joy in Jesus can be a reality. The more we’ve been satisfied by God’s love, His Word, and His presence, the more we will yearn for it. On the other hand, we can spend so much time away from the Lord and His spiritual food and drink that we may no longer feel hungry or thirsty.
“’Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.’” Isaiah 55:2.
Have you ever filled up on chips or bread at a restaurant to the point of not being able to eat the main course? When we choose to fill up on appetizers, we don’t have room for the meal that will truly satisfy us. When we fill up on His Word we carry a weapon for the offensive – the sword. David said, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11.
The more we know God’s Word, the quicker we recognize Satan’s attempts to cover up that truth… the truth that says HE is the source of joy. Spend time with the Lord this week. Rather than asking Him to be with you, why don’t you draw near to Him? He’s always waiting.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8