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Developing Joy By Staying Present To Blessing.
Every given moment is jam-packed with reasons to choose joy.
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A few weeks ago, I was sitting at the counter while Tami was cooking dinner.
This is typically a time for us to catch up on the day and hear about anything we may have missed. But this particular night, Tami was talking to me, but I was distracted by something I assume was relatively unimportant on my phone. She was patient and tried to push through, but eventually said, “Cool, I’ll just look at my phone too.”
Now to be honest, I don’t even remember what she was trying to say to me.
Because I wasn’t present in the moment. My mind was elsewhere. This was horribly disrespectful to my wife. It conveyed that what she was saying didn't matter to me, that I didn’t value her voice. None of this is an accurate reflection of my heart, but none-the-less was what my lack of presence conveyed.
I would argue that this is a snapshot of how we live the majority of our lives. We are endlessly distracted and rarely present in any given moment.
As we finish building out our daily practice for developing a more joyful attitude, we have to see how this lack of presence prevents our experience of joy. So here’s our third and final tool:
Staying Present To Blessing.
Remember again, the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
The “always” here is interesting to me. It raises two questions:
How do we actually rejoice all the time?
How do we do that in seasons that feel difficult?
I would argue the answer to both requires learning to stay mindful to the blessing present in any given moment.
Here’s the reality:
The distracted life is incongruent with the call to discipleship.
Jesus is always with us in the present, but we’re either wrestling with the past, worried about the future, or distracted by some dumb device. All of this takes us out of the present.
Stop what you’re doing for a second and just think about all God’s blessing in this moment.
You are reading something that is hopefully of spiritual value to your soul.
You aren’t not alone. God is with you.
You have a God who loves you and longs to serve you well.
Maybe there is something beautiful around you.
Maybe you’re in the presence of someone else who loves you.
Maybe you’re driving to job that pays your bills.
Maybe you’re headed home for a good meal, or a great nights sleep in a warm bed.
Regardless, stop for a moment and consider every expression of God’s blessing in this moment.
Every moment is jammed packed with reasons to choose joy. The more frequently, we’re present to this blessing, the more joyful we will be.
Remember, joy is the fruit of the daily choice to give our attention to the good news of Jesus. We’ve spent the better part of a month, building a daily practice for developing a joyful attitude. It contains three tools: 1. Savoring Scripture. 2. Storing up gratitude. 3. Staying present to blessing.
As I’ve sat with this all month, I’ve continued to come back to a thought I referenced at the end of last year:
The days of being able to be a casual follower of Jesus are coming to a close.
Christian faith has had such place of prominence and privilege in our country, that it’s been possible to be a casual Christian. We’ve been able to walk with God at our own leisure, to treat it like a hobby. We can worship, pray, read, participate in community, serve and give at our own leisure and on our terms.
But here’s the sobering reality: Christian faith has lost that prominence and privilege in our country. And while a large sum of confessing Christians mourn this, I think it’s healthy. Not because it’s good that a culture be anti-God, but because it invites a more genuine relationship with Him.
Joy is a chief example of this.
The world, the media, and the difficulty of life in this world - none of it is set up to provoke joy. Remember, your own brain works against your experience of joy. So we can’t expect to be casual Christians and experience lives of joy. We have to devote ourselves to the practice developing it with Spirit.
So to that end, I invite you to savor the good news of Jesus in Scripture each day, to store up reasons for gratitude and to stay present to God’s abundant blessing. This is how we make the daily choice to give our attention to the good news of Jesus.
It isn’t easy, but we shouldn’t expect it to be. We don’t live in Eden. We live between two arrivals. Until Jesus restores this world to it’s Eden-like essence, we fight with all we have to be a people of joy in a world of dread.