Dear God, Why does joy seem so easy for others, but so hard for me?
Then God whispered . . . let me tell you a story
Of how joy is meant for you too, Beloved.
Ever feel this way too? I asked God this question recently and I was curious how He’d answer me.
As I approached the new year, a word popped into my head I never associated with myself before. Joy. Sure, I’ve had beautiful moments of joy in my life with God, my friends, and family. But choosing joy intentionally to experience it for myself? To give myself permission to swim in it? Hmm . . . for me, this idea of choosing joy is like visiting Mars. Unchartered territory.
The word joy feels like odd-fitting clothes to wear every day. Yes, I might take it out once in a while as occasion dictates. But, wait – you want me to choose joy as an everyday experience, God? I turned around to see if God meant to place this word on somebody else’s heart.
You know me, God. I’m the responsible one. The organized one, take care of everyone else, the worry-wart, the nerdy-be-content-and-don’t-make-waves one, the recovering people pleaser.
But, it seemed every time I’d brush the word “joy” away, it felt like a little dandelion puff that wouldn’t leave my fingers. No matter how hard I tried to blow it away, the word “joy” just stayed with me.
Could joy be something you’re longing for more of this year too?
Ever feel this way too? I asked God recently why joy was so hard for me – and He answered me by telling me a story about a tree and someone like me. I hope it inspires you as it did me – because I unexpectedly cried reading it after baring my heart.
I usually read the story of Zacchaeus as being about someone who doesn’t know Jesus, to illustrate how Jesus loves everyone, or as a Bible story for kids.
But, as I read about Zacchaeus during quiet time, a story from my childhood surfaced and I heard Jesus whisper to me, as He whispered to Zacchaeus, “Hurry down from your tree! I’m coming to YOUR house”.
In other words, Jesus wants me to come into the hiding places of my heart where I’ve been waiting for joy.
Do you ever feel you hide your heart waiting for joy, too?
I’m guessing Zacchaeus figured the best he could get to joy was to be up in a tree to watch it all happen to others – and experience it vicariously.
And suddenly, I felt I was perched up in that tree too. I’ve always felt the best I could do with joy – the closest I could get – was looking out at others experiencing joy so easily with Jesus – and being happy for them.
But, when Jesus said, “Come down from the tree right away. I’m going to YOUR house today!” (Luke 19:5 paraphrased) – I suddenly noticed for the first time what Zacchaeus did in response!
The Bible tells us Zacchaeus WELCOMED Jesus with JOY!
He took action to choose joy (not tomorrow, not later, but today!) in front of his critics! The Scriptures say Zaccheus HURRIED DOWN and got out of that tree!
Not only that, people around them were GRUMBLING! So, although we may have inner critical voices when we choose joy – it’s too late, don’t be dumb, what’re you thinking, you’re going to fail, it’s a waste of time — or you may have real people in your life who judge you for choosing joy until x, y, z conditions are met, Jesus doesn’t care about those voices.
Jesus is radical. Jesus makes a beeline to you and declares, “I’m here for you! Come down. Choose joy with me!” Can you imagine the loving eyes of Jesus gazing up at you, smiling with a twinkle, and calling you to come down and choose joy with him!?
Let’s be like Zacchaeus, running down from our tree to choose joy, friends!
“Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose joy
And keep choosing it every day.”
Dare to choose what gives you joy, no matter how the new year is shaping up – because the God who loves you takes your hand to choose joy, regardless of how things appear. Jesus stands by your side to whisper, You are worth it. You are worth the joy you long for. You are my beloved.
The world only allows us to choose joy if we deserve it, earn it, or have the right looks, family, friends, success, connections, money, or possessions.
But, Jesus sees into your heart and whispers, You are my home. You are my joy. You are my crowning beauty. My place of love.
I hope you’ll choose joy in a new and deeper way. I am learning to be reckless choosing joy, tumbling down from the tree like Zacchaeus when he thought the best he could do was watch other people have joy, watching from afar.
As I explore what it means to choose joy and live a meaningful life as God’s beloved, I’ll be sharing what I learn about joy this year in my online Whispers of Rest Book Club FB Group , on my blog, Facebook, and Instagram. Will you join me?
I’m going to come down from my be-invisible-tree and WELCOME Jesus with JOY in as many ways as possible.
“It’s okay to have limits. It’s okay to not be all things
To all people all of the time
All by ourselves.”
Here are Three Choose-Joy Lessons I’ve learned so far:
Lesson #1: It’s okay to have limits. Say no, so you can say yes to joy.
Are you saying yes to everyone but you? Say yes. Be you. God tenderly whispers, Don’t hide your heart anymore.
For all the promises of God are ‘Yes’ in Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (Berean Study Bible)
If you valued yourself the way God intended for you to be loved, what would you say yes to? Whose song are you singing? Is it your song?
Lesson #2: What’s urgent to others isn’t urgent to you.
You have what it takes. In every way that truly matters. You have love. But when we’re stressed by many to-do’s because we’re afraid to let others down or FOMO (fear of missing out), we miss out on what gives us joy – in the ways God uniquely made us to experience it.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you…By his divine power, God has given us everything we need… 2 Peter 1:2-3 (Berean Study Bible)
Lesson #3: Rather than people pleasing, move towards peace or joy.
I need to remember this, so I wrote this little Note To Myself —
Instead of people pleasing,
what if you move towards
what brings you peace or joy?
What if God wanted your heart
more than your work?
Hear God whisper,
your heart is my mission field
what’s urgent to others
doesn’t have to be urgent to you
be my beloved.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… Isaiah 43:2 (ISV)
I was thinking of sharing these #notestomyself in the new year and maybe it can bring a smile and sunshine to your heart too! Does it encourage you too? I’ll be sharing more about how to spark joy in my online Whispers of Rest Book Club FB Group and on my blog, so join me there!
Let’s choose joy, friends!
How is God inspiring you to choose joy this year?
By Bonnie Gray, author of the new 40-day devotional detox Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul.