September 8, 2011

an ounce of prevention .... yet again

Am I preventing Joy?
"A common but futile strategy for achieving joy is trying to eliminate things that hurt:  get rid of pain by numbing the nerve ends, get rid of insecurity by eliminating risks, get rid of disappointments by depersonalizing your relationships.  And then try to lighten the boredom of such a life by buying joy in the form of vacations and entertainment."  Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.
Oh, he cuts us so close.  We try to achieve joy by eliminating (or preventing?) pain, and then, Prozacked to dullness, we resort to buying disposable thrills.   To prevent dirty clothes, we miss the joy of playing in the puddles.  Empty, then - lacking the natural joys of life (messy though they sometimes be) - we turn to entertainment:  novels, movies, shopping, facebook.  We listen to music instead of making it, watch sports instead of playing, tune in to sitcoms instead of living, text instead of talking, :lol: instead of laughing.  
We give ourselves lousy gifts when we turn down those our Father offers.
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"  Matthew 7:9-11
Our Father gives us life, from the air we breathe and the sun that lights our days to the landmark joys of life, and what He gives is good.  Joy comes not because of our circumstances, but in the midst of them.  It would be a small god indeed who could only make us happy by making us comfortable.  It takes a God who named the stars and threw them singing into place, the ultimate Source of Love, to well up joy in a cancer patient, an amputee, a sleep-deprived mom, a work-weary father. 
"Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."  John 16:24
 "I am coming to [the Father] now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them."  John 17:13 
Before Jesus goes to his death, he has a final heartfelt talk with his twelve closest followers, and prays for them.  What does he want to tell them one last time?  To abide in him, obeying his commands by loving each other.  How?  By the strength of his Spirit, who Jesus will send after his return to the Father.  Why?  For the completion of their joy.
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you."  John 15:11-12
The key to our joy is our interactions with each other.  Perhaps this is the messiest gift our Father offers us.  Loving each other is dangerous, and often appears to blow up in our faces.  "Love is patient, love is kind..." and we are none of that!  Love anyway, because no matter what it looks like, "love never fails."

What it comes down to is this:  do I want to prevent pain ....?

Or .... (oh risky love) jump into joy?

(first two posts on this subject here and here)

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