Third Advent Candle—Joy
Last Sunday I lit the third Advent candle. Joy.
Sad to say, despite my good intentions, a week before Christmas the wheels fell off my joy wagon. I have over-shopped, over-baked, over-committed and over-eaten. I've worried about what to get who, over-stuffed stockings and under-spent my time with God. Somewhere between Christmas cards and trips to the mall the "Christmas Crazies" set in. I became stressed and crabby and forgot about the Joy candle I lit last Sunday.
In my own defense, this has been a difficult Christmas season. I attended a heartbreaking memorial service last Saturday, this is the week my mother died (fifteen years ago) which always brings back sad memories and, to top it off, I temporarily lost my wedding ring. Joy? Are you kidding?
I've calmed down a bit (after a melt-down mid-week and a couple of small fits) and I'm thinking about Joy again. I've allowed my feelings and circumstances to determine my joy when real joy flows from the abiding presence of Jesus. Even when life throws hard things at us and joy is nowhere to be found, God has not forgotten us. Joy can run deep, sort of like a submarine, beneath the waves of our circumstances. We may not be able to feel it for a season but the joy of the Lord is alive and will surface.
As I sit here staring at my computer, I realize I need the joy of the Lord to be my default position. Regardless of soaring highs or plunging depths of emotion I need to return to the constant, sustaining joy that runs through the center of my soul. God's joy will keep me from depending on worldly pleasures or succumbing to sorrow. I need to make up my mind.
God allows us to choose—so I choose His joy.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4