There is a song that I’ve been listening to and it said “Step into the joy of the Lord.” I figured joy was something we simply wake up into but let’s break down this phrase to get a better meaning of it.
The definition of step into [something] according to thefreedictionary.com is to involve oneself in some matter, to interfere in an affair or dispute.
The word step means a single complete movement of raising one foot and putting it down in another spot. One of a series of actions, processes or measures taken to achieve a goal. A stage in a process.
Verb: Stepped, stepping, step: to move into a new situation by or as if by taking a single step.
Taking the word intervene from the definition to get a clearer picture, according to dictionary.com, as a verb it means to occur or be between two things.
What can we conclude about this word step from the breakdown of its meaning? Joy is not something you simply wake up in, or find yourself miraculously in that state. The first time hearing the song, I thought to myself that maybe joy is actually something we must seek God for. It’s something we must get involved in. We must interfere, so to speak, with joy. There is a series of actions, or processes or measures taken to achieve this state of joy. It just doesn’t come to you, you must STEP INTO IT, INTERFERE WITH IT and BECOME INVOLVED.
So what exactly are the steps to achieving this place, or to move into this new situation or state of joy? Let me rephrase that. What is that single step that we need to take to enter into the joy of the LORD.
I was searching for every scripture I can find pertaining to joy and what I found was that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. So joy is something only God can produce. Interesting right? I wonder if I was the only person out there that thought that joy was an emotional state. Hebrews 12:2 (NLT) says, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” The reason I highlighted initiates is because it is only through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can find true joy. Now, I had to rewind a bit and ask myself what joy is. According to this scripture, Jesus had joy even when things weren’t going that great at the time. He was ultimately facing death and was tortured as well before his final moments on the cross. Even before this event, Jesus walked around knowing what he must do. In faith, awaiting what was promised to HIM and the salvation of the whole world, Christ was able to persevere and find joy in what awaited him in his future.
Let me make this clear. It is not easy to be happy during a crisis. It is not easy to be happy during humiliation. It is not easy. I am not one of those people that will tell you to put on a fake smile. To pretend you’re happy just to please those around you. For me, I need to understand before I can do something. I need to break things down, digest it and then move forward. I can’t just follow the crowd. I can’t just fake it until I make it. I move through conviction because I like being honest with myself. Life is not easy, being a Christian in this world is even harder. Each and every one of us has a personal, intimate relationship with God. We cannot manufacture anyone else’s experiences. We can learn and be encouraged by others testimonies, but it’s only through Christ that change occurs. We have the responsibility to teach in love, not guilt but love. Understanding that we all learn at different paces. Some faster, some slower than others. I consider myself one of the slower ones. I am about savoring the experience and truly understanding, for myself who God truly is.
This joy experience… it’s so funny that my blog has the word joy in it. Little every day blessings and finding joy in the everyday, each day. Having to keep in perspective that only the Holy Spirit can give us true joy. Only a relationship with God can produce this joy we need. It is not happiness. Some days we might not even look happy. We might weep. We will be like Job some-days and have friends that guilt us into producing a fake sort of joy that they can only see. And while I am not encouraging draining those around you with fussing and complaining, what I am trying to say is that God understands. He sees past our frowns, our tears and our downcast exterior. He sees the state of our heart and the prayers of our heart. In my time alone with God, he reassured me that he heard my hearts cry. He hears me even when I’m silent. I pray inside of my heart with longings. Even my tears have a prayer. My whole being cries out to God. He is ever real in my life. He is real to me, so everything I do, he always comes to mind. And I have seen, that even when I don’t pray or read the bible like the most holy Christian does, God has a funny way of meeting all of my needs and leading me to where I need to be. I’ll find that Word of encouragement somewhere. Today, my source of encouragement came from that song. God placed it in my heart to find out what joy truly means. My prayer before was Lord, help me to find happiness in you. Because guess what, I spent my whole life trying to be a good girl. I spent my whole life trying to do everything right so nothing wrong would happen. Guess what, wrong things happened anyway. I was naïve to think that I could trust in my own abilities. Trust in the plan I had for my own life. God halted everything and uprooted it, leaving me feeling a sense of humiliation and hopelessness. I am not blaming God for my problems, but I’m beginning to embrace the bigger picture. A bigger picture I do not fully understand but understanding that I do not need to. A God that reaches deep into the heart and pulls out everything and lays it out in full view so that I may see it and give it to him.
So this faith, that starts with believing in Christ and accepting his salvation for YOU becomes trust. Trust you say? Yes, another thing I struggle with. Trust doesn’t come easy for me. I love being in control and understanding and knowing everything. If I don’t know, then it won’t happen in my life. That’s how I am. However, according to that word mentioned above, Jesus perfects our faith. How does he perfect our faith? I won’t get into deep theology but it’s through the process of sanctification. It is through living a Christian life, learning about God and developing a relationship with him that we learn to trust him. We learn to trust his word. This helps me to understand why Atheists and other non-Christians do not understand the Word of God or its promises. They do not have the capacity to understand. Even a baby Christian or a carnal one would not understand this because there is no relationship (to be clear, this isn’t a bad thing. It just means that there is no history. People cannot speak about what they do not know). The stepping stone or the STEP towards joy is relationship through trust in God. Wow. What am I even saying? Well, all I can say is that we learn to trust God through the experiences we go through with him. We begin to learn of his character. It is not enough to hear the stories over and over again, we must have events and circumstances in life that allows us to apply that word to it.
This is to my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be patient with those who are new to the faith. Let us understand that they do not have the same understanding as those that consider themselves mature and sharpened in the faith. Do not discourage but encourage.
As for me, I too am learning. My transition from sorrow and humiliation will be learning to trust in God through every season. That faith and trust is where joy comes from. Knowing that nothing is in vain. That God has something big in store for me. And whenever I forget like the Israelites in the wilderness, I must run back to Papa God and allow his word to sink into my heart.
My advice? Go off somewhere alone. Be alone. Too much noise, distractions, duties and people will hinder your time with God. Get some ME TIME with God. Spend it just being in his presence. There are no rituals, no order of service, no expectations besides just talking to him as you would your best friend or spouse. That’s what I did and look what came out of it! Now I truly understand for myself where joy comes from. It is not manufactured, it just doesn’t poof out of the sky. It takes time, it is a process. A wonderful process of love. It is in this joy of God that we find our strength to persevere.