Yup, I'm wondering…
JOY is my word for 2014.
And so far, this year has had a rocky start. Yes, my father's hospitalization and his passing were very, very difficult. But oddly, throughout it all, I felt a supernatural buoyancy in my heart. God's presence was very close, and yes, I did feel a settled sense of JOY.
But in the last couple of weeks, as life has returned to normal, I've been overcome with a spiritual malaise.
Sure, I know that I will feel sad about my dad for a long, long time. But this feeling is something else. It's like I have a low-grade *blah* going on.
Sometimes this just happens to me.
For no particular reason.
Sometimes, there's no explanation for the cold, dreary weather front in my soul. It's just there – blanketing everything.
I hesitated writing this post. I like being upbeat, encouraging, positive – and even downright inspiring once in a while.
But, right now, I don't have it in me.
When I get these "moods" I don't usually feel like doing much of anything. I am "She Who Is Unable To Be Pleased."
And truthfully, I also don't feel like writing – (mostly because I'm dry, dry, dry).
Now I know that this is not a "God-honoring" place to be. And I don't like the concerted determination that tends to creep into my heart – "I'm going to hold on to this mood no matter what."
So, desperate to cling on to something other than "grayness," I decided to do a search within my blog for posts I have labeled *joy*. And I found one post that really spoke to the way I'm feeling right now. So, I've decided to re-write it for today's post. (No, not cheating…well, maybe a little…)
This post gave me renewed insight into why I might be feeling low right now.
It's because I've been playing a game.
The "What If Game" –
Ever played it?
It's really pretty simple. There are two versions of the game. Let me explain.
First of all, there’s the "Game of What If Past."
Basically, you think about all the things you should have done, but didn't. Or think about all the things you did do, but shouldn't have.
What if I had gone to a different college? Or gone to college? What if I hadn't (or had) gotten married? Or what if I'd married someone else? What if I'd taken that other job? What if I hadn't made that investment? What if I hadn't bought this house? What if I hadn't made that choice? What if I'd done this instead? (I'm sure you can add to this list...)
You get the idea.
The word "should" is really important in this version of the game. I looked up the word "SHOULD" in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:
L iving in
The other version is the "Game of What If Future."
Basically, you think about all the things that could happen, and be sure to concentrate on the worst-case scenario.
What if I lose my job? What if I lose my house? What if I get some dreaded disease? What if my spouse leaves me, or dies? What if something happens to my kids? What if I never get married? What if my car breaks down? What if I can't pay the taxes? What if I get hurt? What if my plans, dreams, goals don't work out? (Adding to this list, too???)
The word "could" is really important in this game. I looked up the word "COULD" in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary:
L iving in
Living in Defeat.
That's the key objective of the "What If Game." The rules are simple:
1) Always think (obsess) about things you cannot change and/or have no control over.
2) Allow yourself to be consumed with this miry thinking.
3) Keep playing until you have exhausted yourself – until you are emotionally paralyzed.
4) Play until you are unable to be any good whatsoever for the present moment.
That's when you've won the game.
Except you haven't…
The enemy has.
It's his game, you see –
Distracted, ineffective, discouraged, anxious, weak, intimidated…
We become nothing but little pawns of his fiery arrow thoughts – moved around on his game board, subject to his whims.
Why are we playing this game?
Why are we not fighting this battle?
(Why am I playing – why am I not fighting?)
You know why?
Because it's a subtle game. It's not always easy to see who's moving the pieces.
After all, these are just MY thoughts…right? I'm in control of my mind…right? If I have a thought enter my head, I have to think it…right?
"Sure, absolutely," the devil says.
And don't just think it. Invite it in for a meal. Let it have a sleepover. Hey, why not let it be a permanent houseguest –
My friends, the "What If Game" is not harmless!
It is an insidious inroad for the enemy's work.
We have to be aware of it. We have to be on guard. We have to fight
And we need help.
Jesus won this game.
Satan played a great game of "What If" with Jesus in the wilderness...
"Hey, you're tired and hungry…WHAT IF you turned these stones into bread?"
"I know, WHAT IF you jumped off the Temple – you could call a bunch of your angel buddies to save you."
"You know, WHAT IF I gave you all the kingdoms of the world to rule over, right now?"
Jesus did not give in.
He used a failsafe strategy – the ONLY effective strategy in this game.
He used Scripture.
We must do the same.
The "Game of What If Past" –
"…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past…I press on to reach the end of the race…" (Philippians 3:13-14)
The "Game of What If Future" –
"Can all your worries add a single day to your life?...[God] will certainly care for you…So don't worry about tomorrow…" (Matthew 6:27, 30-31)
The final move in the "What If Game"?
"Give us TODAY the food we need…" (Matthew 6:11)
"THIS is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."
"You go before me and follow me…I can never get away from your presence…Every day of my life…every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (Psalm 139:5, 7, 16)
Today I am once again realizing that even in the middle of the *blahs* – I can still have JOY if I don't lose focus.
Because today – I have Jesus.
And in Him, Jesus Only You, I can find something that I'm not feeling naturally…
I can find – or more accurately perhaps, re-find – JOY.
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
"Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the LORD will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
'Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.'
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.
The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish...
And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God's ways;
fools will never walk there...
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness."
(From Isaiah 35, NLT)
"Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness." (Isaiah 51:11, NLT)
"For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17, NLT)
How might you find (or re-find) your JOY today?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Jen at SOLI DEO GLORIA
Jen at UNITE
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Rosilind at A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS
Kasey at WALKING REDEEMED
Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Beth at THREE WORD WEDNESDAY
Judith at WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS
Lyli at THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY
Bonnie at FAITH BARISTA JAM
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
Salina at HEART REFLECTED
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"