Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tears of Joy

As I child, I never really liked playing Hide-n-Seek. Well, that's not entirely true. I thoroughly enjoyed hiding, but when it came my time to do the seeking, I would always suggest a game of Hopscotch. Don't get me wrong. I'm more than willing to hold up my end of a game. If I hide, I need to take my turn seeking. I get that. But for some odd reason, not knowing where to look, made me feel anxious and uneasy.

Sherlock Holmes, I am not, and I don't get the tiniest bit of pleasure out of a "good" mystery. If I am looking for something, or in this case, someone, I want to know exactly where to look. I want a map with a big, bright red "X" marking the spot. But, hide-n-seek doesn't work that way. It's all about the hunt; followed by the excitement you feel when you discover your friend hiding in the last place you would ever have thought to look.

Once I gave my heart to Christ and His precious Holy Spirit came to live inside me, I began to discover the fruit of the Spirit in my life. As I allowed the Spirit to take control, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control became evident at different times and places in my Christian walk. Joy, however, seemed to be hiding from me.

But how could this be? Wasn't it supposed to be in my life, too? Although separate and unique, these characteristics of Christ are one. After all, they are known as the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the spirit. So...where was my joy? Believe it or not, when I finally found it, it was in the last place I would ever have thought to look.

Following Christ, I soon discovered, is not an easy thing to do. This spiritual journey requires much from those who would choose to walk the walk, and not simply talk the talk. To be true followers of Christ, we must be willing to give Christ our all...and this requires sacrifice, and death. Yes, even death.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 (King James Version)

In order for Christ to live fully in and through me, I must die. You must die, too. As children of the Most High God, we are called upon to take up our cross daily, denying self and surrendering all to God. This process of becoming a new creature in Christ is excruciatingly painful. Death never comes without tears of sorrow.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5 (King James Version)

Tears. What an unlikely place to discover my joy, and yet, that is exactly where I keep finding it. As I surrender my will to the will of my Father, I pass through a valley of tears. Yet, on the other side of this dark place, I discover true joy.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory 1 Peter 1 6-8. (King James Version)

Unlike the game of Hide-n-Seek, God has been faithful to map out the way for us. The blood stained cross of Calvary clearly marks the spot where our joy is found.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross Hebrews 12:2 (New International Version)

Imagine the thrill of my discovery when I finally found God's precious gift of joy in my tears of surrender. Kneeling at the foot of the cross, I exchange my tears of sorrow for tears of joy. It is here,I find joy unspeakable.

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