When Joy Is Carried

It was a moment I had dreamed about but I could never dream that the moment was as amazing as it was. I was in a room full of women, and the room was filled with an unspeakable joy. It was a joy that you could almost touch if touching joy was possible. Over 12 women had just given their lives to Christ, many others were experiencing God’s love, and the joy was overflowing in the room as we all danced in freedom.

Joy. Oh to feel that joy in my life. It is a joy that is recognizable when you see it, but a joy that can be so rare in a life that can be shadowed with fear, doubts, and anxiety.

Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit… Joy is.

8 years ago I went to Rwanda. One of the things that stuck out to me on the trip was the joy that these people had despite anything that they have gone through or are going through. Many of the people that we met have been through horrific events in their lives, and would have every right to carry fear, doubt, and maybe even the thought that God didn’t even love them if they have been through so much tragedy.

Yet, joy radiated from so many of the people we met, and it was a joy that you could tell was just part of who they were, and a joy that could only come from Christ.

This isn’t something that I have thought of much until recently. But about 9 months ago I heard of a young family who was moving to our area. I looked the wife up on FaceBook, and approached her in church when I saw her visit one Sunday. She must have thought I was crazy when I went up to her and said “You’re Jamie right?” I mean who does that? 9 months later that initial conversation has lead to mornings at the beach with our toddlers, and blessed times talking about faith.

We got our families together last week, and something reminded me of joy and got me desiring for more of it in my life. You see, her husband was born in Rwanda. And it didn’t take me long to recognize the joy that was in him. It was a joy that I had seen 8 years ago. You could tell by his natural smile, that joy was part of who he was. It was a joy that couldn’t be faked, a joy that couldn’t be ignored, but a joy that could only come from abiding in Christ.

I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11

These words were spoken after Jesus encourages his disciples to abide in Him on the eve of His suffering. These words are important. He could focus on many things…and He does, but here He chooses to focus on the true source of joy.  I wrote about abiding a couple weeks ago, but I want to dig a little deeper quick into the phrase “bear fruit” because I never fully understood the meaning of this.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  Whoever abides in His love bears much fruit. Bears. Carries.  Upholds, keeps from falling.

Just like my friend’s husband carries joy, a fruit of the Spirit.

He says He tells us these things so that His joy may be in us, and our joy will be made full, complete, filled to the brim. Jesus is so good to not leave us in the dark. I think of my son, Charlie who constantly asks us Why?, in response to almost everything we ask of him. And like a good parent should, He tells His followers of the truth.

Fear is not a fruit of the Spirit.

I want that joy. Joy that is carried by abiding in Jesus. And I really spent a lot of time thinking about that over the past few days. Jesus talks a lot in John 15 about abiding and obeying His commands, but how can I carry a joy that is just a part of who I am?

So many times in my life, I can abide more in fear than in Jesus. But fear is not a fruit of the Spirit, and neither are the feelings of being overwhelmed, doubt, and insecurity that I can often feel. Those are probably things that Jesus warns about that would cause a person not to bear fruit honestly. Did I mention abiding in fear? Joy killer friends.

If I want to abide in Jesus, and if I want to bear fruit, I need to focus on Him more, and turn my attention away from what wouldn’t carry joy.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

So today as I was walking with my daughter and really considering this, I decided to do a thankful fast for the next 3 weeks. Each morning, I am going to start the day by journaling the things I am thankful for, but really focusing on being thankful for who Jesus is, and who He has been to me in my life.

Would you join me? Would you take time each day, just a few minutes to reflect on who He is? Start now, take just a few minutes and be thankful.

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