My very first contributing writer is my husband! He is a God-fearing man, and an incredible writer-he was born to write. I hope you are blessed =)
By Benjamin Gill
Have you ever felt like your joy for life was being drained right out of your body? I have. I'm not talking about the ordinary ups and downs of life. This is a deeper problem, and it has much more to do with your effectiveness as a Christian, a spouse, a parent than just your momentary happiness.
A few years ago, I used to drive an old car, at least by American standards. In
, my 1993 Geo Prizm would have been the newest model on the lot. But here on the clogged highways of the Cuba , my 225,000 miles represented some decent longevity. The main benefit of that road-weary driving machine was that I didn't have to fork over thousands of dollars a year in car payments. The trade-off was that I had to fork over hundreds of dollars a year in car repairs. U.S.
That car was a blessing in many ways, and it got me where I needed to go. But it also robbed me on numerous occasions, stealing my valuable Saturdays and raiding my wallet. That's similar to what the devil and the world do when they rob us of joy. We’ll get to that in a moment, but for now, let’s get back to my car.
At one point, my radiator sprung a minor leak. My mechanic encouraged me to replace it. Since the radiator was made with a plastic top, the leak couldn't be plugged. Brilliant! The car was nearing the end of its days, and I wasn't convinced to give the mechanic my hard-earned hundreds just yet. Since the leak wasn't at a dangerous level, he said I might be able to get by with just keeping an eye on it every day, checking the fluid levels, biting my fingernails, that sort of thing.
So I figured I had some time to decide. I spent a few weeks "keeping an eye on it" before I realized it was worrying me more than it should. I kept having visions of breaking down on the way to work and missing some major deadline. I may have even had a mild nightmare to that effect.
A few times I recalled an incident when I had been stuck in traffic, and the car next to me was spewing antifreeze everywhere - no steam, just gushing bright green stuff. The driver was a teenager, and didn't appear to realize what was happening. So I did him the kind service of telling him, "Hey, your radiator's leaking!" I figured he would actually care to know about his radiator’s mortal wound. He ignored me.
In the end, I decided not to become that teenager, and hoping to squeeze yet another year out of my car, I bit the bullet on the new radiator.
Then there was the time I blew a gasket. Alright maybe it wasn't completely blown, just a bit leaky, but I've always wanted to use that phrase and actually be referring to something mechanical. Everywhere I went, I left a lovely shiny black puddle behind. That was a pretty penny to fix as well.
Car leaks in all their various forms, from oil to antifreeze, remind me of leaky Christians. That's all of us by the way. A friend of mine in college once told me, "One of the Devil's top goals is to steal our joy." I had never heard anyone put it quite that way. I agreed with him then, and I agree with him more now, even though I often forget about this ploy. There are many ways the enemy works us over. But the most insidious form is the steady drip, drip, drip.
The Bible tells us the Devil comes "to steal, kill, and destroy." We also know that he knows scripture. He quoted it, and twisted it while tempting Jesus in the wilderness. With his thousands of years of experience taunting and robbing and attacking people, I think he probably knows by now why joy is so important to Christians.
But I think many of us forget why joy matters so much. It's not just a nice byproduct of knowing Jesus. No, it's much more. The joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10) If you've lost your joy, you've lost your strength. Joy is the lifeblood of the believer. If you're leaking joy, pretty soon you'll dry up, and your spiritual engine can seize up amid the heated frenzy of life.
Of course, our sinful nature is at the heart of this leaking. But "the Father of Lies" also knows how to use our sinfulness and lack of faith to his advantage. He and his minions whisper lies to our hearts as we face life's cares and worries: "you're stuck with that problem," "you'll never lose that weight," "you'll never be able to pay off those bills," "you'll always have that illness," "you'll never make it." Lies, lies, and more lies. He entices many with the love of money, or dare I say it, "the American dream." He inflicts others with sickness, fear, and despair.
But Jesus said He came to give us life, and abundant life at that. So who have we been listening too?
As Psalm teaches us about God, “in Your presence there is fullness of joy.” And we all need a fill-up. Getting in God's presence does a lot of things, but in this case the big one is that it changes our perspective. We realize that God is bigger than our problems. When we're in His presence, we know we're safe and secure. We’re reminded that our needs will be met. When we enter His presence through worship, prayer, reading the Word, it reminds us heaven is our home, and brings the Kingdom of heaven to earth. The more we recognize we're part of a different Kingdom, the less susceptible we are to the prince of this earth.
We’re also told in Galatians 5:22 that joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. So we'll get more joy the more we choose to be filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit.
So it seems to me that the key to plugging our joy leaks is found in walking closely with the Lord, and listening to His voice. As we fill up our tank in God’s presence, we’ll be able recognize the threats, shoot down the lies, and allow the joy of the Lord be our strength each new day.