'You Will Make Me Full of Joy'
I know some years ago, I wrote a post with some of the thoughts I'm penning below, but considering the length of time since I did so, I guess there is no harm in sharing it more fully now. Possibly, I am am in the need of a fresh prompting of what the true meaning of joy is as the year comes to a close and a new one dawns. I always need to remember, after all.
One of my 'favourite' (if one can ever have a favourite) verse in the Scriptures has been Psalm 16, verse 11. Not only does it speak of 'fullness of joy' which resonates strongly with my desire and longing for 'joy', but also in Acts, we see the Apostle Peter take this passage of Scripture as a fulfillment of prophesy in regards to our Lord and His Resurrection - what a glorious mystery and Hope!
'I foresaw the LORD always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your Presence.'
Acts 2: 25-28
Over the months and years since, I titled my blog 'Fullness of Joy', the title and verse accompanying my blog has helped me keep in perspective not only what I share on my blog about my writing, the books I love and the things I love to do and be, but it also has been a beneficial reminder of who and what I am in Christ, and His Providential purpose and destiny for my life, to walk the path of faith and joy with my Lord, looking towards my eternal Home (and not getting entangled in every Vanity Fair of life). We're just passin' through.
I am Joy, and as to my temperament, ironically, I am (generally!) as happy a person as my name would imply. In many ways, life seems brimming chock-block-full of so many joys, laughter and glorious beauty. It can be overwhelming at times! And yet, it is also filled with greater sorrow and sadness, pain, agony and sin. That kind of fearfulness and darkness that can not be easily shut out. Once I thought differently, but now I am realizing just how much life is filled with gritty sorrow and burdensome toil. Once I used to think the book of Ecclesiastics and Job really did not belong in the spiritual journey of a Christian who has Hope in Christ. Now, I am starting to glimpse something of an affinity to those passages of Scripture. Life is difficult to understand especially when you're hurting and when you find that you cannot be happy of and in yourself. Of myself I know I cannot ever be happy... I cannot be a 'joy' to others, to the Lord, or a joy in my own life. My selfishness, my sins, the troubles and sorrows around me, robs me of any beauty and ecstasy over the glory of Creation. All I see, these days, is the Fall.
And it is so, so hard... to see the Resurrection.
...in the world, in Creation, in the church-family and in me. But then I look to Christ. And like through a mirror, not dimly, but truly, I see it in Him. It is in Him that all my Desires and Joys abide. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Where everything else fails, He does not. Friends, loved ones, hopes and dreams, ambitions, pleasures... they all disappoint. He does not. I am not saying that following Him is easy, or that life's problems fix themselves over. Oh, no! It is the way of Calvary, after all. But - it is worth it. Because He is there, His Spirit abiding in us - we die to self, and live in Him! And like the Apostle Paul, 'as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing...'
And so, the verse in Psalm 16 has become very dear to me over the years; over and over, the Lord keeps showing me how there can never be true joy in life apart from Him. It is in His Presence that there is fullness of joy. And that 'joy' is unlike anything the world offers. It is a joy, oh far more precious! It is a joy that comes from abiding and living in the Presence of our beloved Saviour, in repentance (which is the joy-filled life!). Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15: 11 NKJV) It is the joy of the Lord. During the season in which I was born (Christmas), there is a sense of celebration and jollification, but in those special joyous occasions you and I may be suffering or hurting... or maybe, just struggling with doubts and don't feel any joy, or anything of that kind of happiness of the world that is both cheap and so transient. But there is a joy far greater, true joy... and you know what? That joy, no one... NO ONE! can take away from us, even in the midst of weeping and great inner turmoil and darkness. Jesus promised us His joy...
"Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy... Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."
John 16: 20, 22 NKJV
No one can take that away. Seeking the Lord Jesus, dwelling in His Presence, that's where there is 'fullness of joy' and inner peace. That's the desire of my heart. To dwell in His Presence and abide in Him. A part of abiding in Him, dwelling in His Presence is listening to His voice and obeying. When we stop choosing our own way, and the passing "pleasures of this world", "He will show us the path of life..." and in dying to self, abiding in Him, then there is true fulfillment and joy in life - then there is Joy and Resurrection! That is one big lesson of my life that I know I will continue to learn and grow in for the rest of my life: walking the path of life with Him in the everyday things of life, and also the big things: in home-life, schooling, reading, writing, music, art, homemaking, cooking, sewing, family-time, friend-time, quiet times with God... the list is endless. He gives the joy with which we can see life and enjoy it, and take all these joys of life and give it back to Him in thankfulness. It is a life surprised by signposts of joy - our final joy will be in reaching Glory Land when we will continually be with Him in utter joy and bliss; but until then, as we walk the path of life, His joyful Presence surrounds us. He is with us. Oh! So, may we seek His Presence always- for in His presence is fullness of joy!
'When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries 'Look!' The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. 'We would be at Jerusalem.'
- Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis
God bless, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!