Finding Joy

As some of you may remember, my 2012 resolution is to live as in An Audience of One, so since the beginning of the year I have been excavating deeply buried misconceptions in my soul that keep me from seeing who I really am in Christ Jesus. It’s a grueling process, and I have to continually and intently dig into and embrace the truths and promises of God that root out these lies within me.

My natural response is to slash myself with negative words that flood into my mind unbidden, and it’s taxing work to fight against this brutal force.  Battle weary and ready to give up, it’s not easy to focus on what God truly says about me – I am valuable, lovable, and capable. I am cherished and precious. There is no one on this earth that is created like me with a special, unique purpose. Jesus loves me fully, freely, and unconditionally! The more I pour these truths into my mind and heart, the more diluted those negative voices must become.

Jesus loves you, too! And He wants you to believe it in the depths of your souls. Insecurities, shame, bitterness, legalism, abuse, fear, and so many other things can shackle us and hold us back from freedom in our lives. Freedom to live fully, love freely, and laugh often. Freedom to tap into and experience the love, joy, and peace that is available to us through Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want us to be victims, not even survivors. He wants us to dance a victory jig in, through, and to Him.

I am just finishing an online Bible Study by Wendy Blight, using her book – Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story. Wendy shares her story of being raped in college and how she moved from being a victim to a victor in Christ. She is a testimony to God’s power to redeem and heal in the midst of pain and devastation.

I love how Wendy presents God’s Word as a gold mine waiting and even longing for us to discover it’s fathomless riches. Also that she stresses how available the power of the Holy Spirit is to us if we choose to tap into it. Just to give you a glimpse of what lies in this book and to encourage you to read it, I’d like to share just one statement from each chapter that especially resonated within my soul:

(Written with Permission from Author Wendy Blight)

  1. “What possible purpose could there be for the unspeakable acts that a vile man committed against me?”
  2. “I was processing everything through the lens of my pain, my hurt, and my fear. I decided I needed to find a different lens, God’s lens, through which to see my circumstances.”
  3. “God wanted to use His Word to reach into the depths of my soul and penetrate my heart. That frightened me because I knew what He would find. Deeply embedded in the soil of my heart were fear, shame, bitterness, and despair. I was afraid to go there, to face the fear, the shame, the anger, and the bitterness. These feelings and emotions had become one with me; I did not want to confront them.”
  4. “Our suffering is not meaningless, because God has a plan. He asks us to trust in that plan…”
  5. “Like the invalid in God’s story, you can choose to remain paralyzed. Or you can respond to the call of Christ, get up off your mat, and walk.”
  6. Concerning learning forgiveness, “He (God) was not asking me to forget. My hurt and pain were valid in His eyes. They were real. However, I had allowed them to take control of my life. They ruled my heart, and as long as they did, God could not.”
  7. “We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, protected and loved by an all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God. Satan cannot make us do anything. What he can do, however, is take advantage of what we do not know and use it to deceive us. He puts thoughts in our mind that lead us to places of lies and deception.”
  8. “Scripture teaches that God not only desires for us to spend time with Him, but also long to spend time with us.”
  9. “Jesus shed His blood once and for all so that all people could have the opportunity to enter into God’s presence through prayer, anytime, anywhere.”
  10. “Accessing the power available in God’s Holy Spirit requires that we flip on the switch and tap into His power.”
  11. “He will transform your pain through the power of His Holy Spirit… the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.”

Jesus wants to shine His joy within us and through us, but sometimes our misconceptions of our value in Him can cast a gloomy shade over our lives. We need to work at replacing those lies in our hearts with God’s Truth. God has not promised it will be easy, but He has promised we will find joy. And God always keep His promises!

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