Monday, June 30, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 11:17 PM | 3 comments

Becoming Joyful

Joyful and happy are so very different. Why can't we get that? We say it all the time..."Happy is based on circumstance. Joy is based on knowing and believing Christ."

We say that, and then in the very same breath we tell the person who is crying to suck it up because they should be joyful. I think our, or at least my, understanding of joy needs to be broadened.

I had a very sweet friend tell me once that I was always sad. She challenged me to be more joyful. I certainly think there is weight in what she share with me, which went a little deeper than just that. But at the same time, she was someone I felt like I didn't have to be fake with. If I was not having a good day then I told her that. In the same year, I had other friends tell me how contagious my joy was. So, what I am to do with that? One friend says," You are always joyful and you trust the Lord. It's such an encouragement." And another friend says, "You are always so sad. You need to take joy in the Lord and trust Him."

Do you know how confusing that can be? Very. But I think I sort of understand...a very tiny bit.

See, in this season I have been both discouraged and encouraged. My circumstances are some of the most discouraging I have ever faced. But I have been more encouraged by the Lord in these times as well. There are days, weeks, even months when I feel...emotionally...defeated, sad, forgotten. But spiritually, I feel satisfied, joyful, victorious. Most of the time the defeated probably shows though more than the victorious. I think that is because it is my flesh that is feeling defeated and it is my flesh that fights against everything spiritual. I know that needs to change. My spirit...rather, the Holy Spirit should be controlling my countenance. My eyes should shine with hope and joy even as I cry. I think more and more that is happening. I believe that we have seasons like this so that those things can happen. But it takes time. It takes change. And God doesn't always make those changes in us over night.

So next time you see someone who seems to lack joy, maybe ask them first. It could be that they do have joy and are just having a hard time expressing it through the hurt.

I don't think that is what my friend was doing. I appreciate that conversation because I know she wants me to look more like Christ which means she really loves me. And I certainly have grown because of her words.


I think it's silly to act like trials aren't painful. They are. And we are promised to have them. I don't think Paul went around talking about how great his life was. He probably told people when that thorn in his flesh was acting up and hurting. He probably had days in prison when all he could do was weep. But that doesn't mean that Paul wasn't joyful.

Down below, I typed out 1 Peter 1:6-9. I love this passage. I love that it says "if necessary". Our trials, our hard seasons, our tears....they have a purpose. If they don't have a purpose, they don't happen. It's ok to admit that those trials are hard and painful. But even in that pain we rejoice because in God's mercy He has saved us and given us a living hope.

1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in the praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Posted by Erin Posted on 3:58 PM | 2 comments

Becoming a Truth-walker

First of all, I feel compelled to clarify my last post a little bit. I think it may have come across to some that I believe if a job is not what I want to do, if it is hard, that I don't think I am supposed to be doing it. That is not at all what I mean. What I mean to communicate is that the place where faith and logic come together is lost on me. I do not plan to avoid jobs simply because they are difficult or boring or uncomfortable or whatever terrible adjective we should use. I know that even what I feel called to do, in my case being young-women's ministry, will be very difficult and sometimes boring, and most often uncomfortable. Every job is all of those things at one point or another. So, it's not an avoidance that is my issue. It is instead trying to figure out where I need to be for now, and the balance of action and waiting. Moments when I begin to ravenously search for a job usually occur because I am in a place of not trusting. I am thinking, "Well, I need income and You are not providing it God, so I will just have to take things into my own hands and go find a job myself." Regardless of the fact that faith also requires action, in those moments, my action is sinful because it is doubting God's promises and character. So there you have it. Hopefully that clears things up.

As for this Truth-walker business. As I am sure you have realized through conversations and posts, I have been struggling to walk in faith. I know things in my head but have trouble living out those truths. I have had several days, and more and more as this season continues, where I become consumed by my circumstances and emotions. I have a tendency to walk in the "truth" of what I can see and feel.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, as we split into our prayer groups at GS practice, Roger encouraged us to pray according to the Truth that we are victorious. Our group sort of forgot to do that I guess. But as I left and went about the rest of the night I continued to think about that. About praying over our circumstances as though we are already victorious...because we are. So I thought about that all week. I am unemployed, but I am victorious. I live with my parents, but I am victorious. My life looks nothing like how I thought it would...or how I think it should, but I am victorious. Then, as I discussed with a friend some struggles that she was facing, and sharing my own struggles, the Lord brought to mind an illustration. If you know me at all, you know that I am a total illustration person. I always have an illustration for everything. I can't help it.

Here is the illustration that came to mind...I have these three note cards in my head. Written on one is my circumstances. On another is my I feel about life. And written on the third is Truth. They are stacked on top of each other and which ever is on top is what I see first and what I am walking in. It affects how I see the other two. Usually, the circumstance or feelings card is on top. So I usually live from there, seeing mostly my circumstances or emotion and then truth is an afterthought. The last couple of weeks though, I have switched the cards around in my head so that the first card I see is Truth. I see who God is and who I am in Christ and that affects the way I view my circumstances and feelings. I can walk in Truth. Truth really can be what we see first. As another friend put it, this illustration is just the living out of taking every thought captive. There are certainly times when the cards get mixed up and I see one of the other cards first. In those moments, I have to consciously switch my cards around and put them in the right order. I have to be deliberate in how I am thinking.

It is amazing how much more alive I have felt these last couple of weeks. I have taken initiative in somethings and just enjoyed life in general. I've become a Truth-Walker. It will be a daily challenge, I know. But I have a mental image to help me.