I hope you enjoy Day 5 of our blog series on Joy. Through Jeff's (my husband) coaching of 100s of people he has discovered both practical and spiritual steps that you can take so that you can live with greater JOY.
So yesterday we talked about how to create margin in your calendar. And why it’s so important to the cultivation of joy. My big question is: Did you take the time out to do the exercise I outlined? If not, I can guess two likely reasons why:
1. You’re too busy to spend the 30 minutes necessary to do the exercise.
2. The pain in your life is not great enough to do the hard work of adjusting your calendar and leaning into joy.
Trust me, I feel your pain. I was there for too long wanting change, but not wanting it bad enough. Here’s my encouragement: Don’t sweat it if for now you fall into either of those categories. It’s just not your time. When you’re broken enough, you’ll start taking action. My purpose in writing the Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance was not to motivate people into pursuing joy, but to help people who are stuck and want help.
If are ready, and you have a plan for getting margin in your calendar, here’s what I suggest you do next: Abide. (You may recall from yesterday, that abide is the second piece of the M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan)
The word abide means to be with, to live with, or to spend time with. In practice, it means spending time with God by reading the bible, praying throughout the day, learning with fellow believers, serving with fellow believers, meditating on scripture, to name a few.
At this point in time you might be thinking “Really? I work hard to create margin in my calendar and this is all you have for me? Pray more? Read the bible more? I heard that last Sunday at church. Is that the best you got?”
But hear me out. I want to challenge you on a few things. How much time are you really spending abiding? How confident are you that you are actually reading, praying, studying etc. properly? (There are right ways and wrong ways to do these things, you know.) And, regardless of how often or how effective you are with your spiritual disciplines, are you merely gaining information but not experiencing transformation?
The only true measure of the quality of our abiding is the extent to which we are exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). If we are not living with greater love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control, it’s safe to say most of our well-intentioned, churchified activities are a waste of time.
But don’t fret – there are resources out there that can help you move your abiding from stale, go-through-the-motions actions to life-giving habits. Personally, I think Chapter 6 of my book is a great “short course” to get rolling with this. The best “deep dive” I know of on this topic is Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline. It’s a classic that has transformed many lives --- mine included.
Here are a few questions that I hope will give you a pathway forward:
· What do you need to do to reinvigorate your appetite for and time in the Bible?
· In what ways do you need to rethink your approach to living with God each moment of every day?
· What’s the number one thing that gets in the way of your attempts to abide more frequently with God? What are you going to do about it?
· What can you do to get into a church or small group to help you grow in this area?
Let me wrap up this post with my favorite verse in all of the bible: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Part of the reason I love this verse is not just because abiding is the pathway to positively impacting the world [our fruit], but because Jesus says, after reiterating verse five several times, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
What an awesome promise: Abiding powers us to make a difference and count it all joy.