Today’s Charting the Course post was selected from among the sticky notes on my desk. (Inspiration abounds among the dust bunnies…)
I had scribbled on that little paper brain cell the question What produces joy? with a Romans 8:37 note in the upper corner. That familiar verse reads in the Literal Version as –
But in all these things we more than conquer
through Him loving us.
I could end the post right here leaving us all with something to soak up, chew on, or drink in for awhile. But I won’t, because that same early morning came an answer to what produces joy? that I captured in the remaining space on my neon yellow 2″ square:
‘more than conquer’
Reading the list of ‘all these things’ a few verses earlier, things like trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword… it’s easy to imagine (or feel some days) a mounting sense of overwhelm.
If we’re honest, how many times would we have to admit that our version of charting the course leans more toward avoidance of anything remotely reflected in the above list rather than producing joy?
Jesus chose to be a joy producer. In the last days of earthly life, Jesus modeled the highest commitment to staying the course charted for a life’s purpose that His companions had ever witnessed. Love laid down His life for the joy and for us.
Luke 9:51 records it this way: Now when the time was almost come for Jesus to be received up [to heaven], He steadfastly and determinedly set His face to go to Jerusalem. (AMP)
Meet Flint Eastward. In the flesh.
The commitment Jesus modeled remains strong and effective for us today through the power of his Holy Spirit and the strength of His joy.1
Following are a few thoughts from that morning as I read Romans 8:27 –
- It was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the Cross.2 He most certainly had a goal but the joy that awaited would only be experienced if and when He completed what He set out to do. Joy is ours in exchange for the price of endurance for His Name’s sake, not just for enduring.
- Joy is higher and deeper than happiness. We’re warmed at the fires of external elation. Joy is the fire – within. When it is burning well and bright fanned by the breath wind of the Holy Spirit, we too can set our face like flint toward the purpose of God for our life.
- Joy is fueled by knowing one’s purpose and produced by remaining true to the Living Word. Not a former word but the Living Word which is a Present word for whatever life may bring our way.
- Joy is produced in the heat of the battle. When things are easy, we are happy. But it takes the friction of rubbing against the grain of our natural desire to produce the spark that ignites joy. The joy of overwhelm overtaken by ‘more than conquer’ing all the way to the test’s completion.
- Jesus knew overwhelm in a way that none other on this earth has. His overwhelm was the multiplied anguish and darkness of all who have ever lived. He became sin. That, my friend, is overwhelm too deep for us to fully grasp. It’s also what makes His joy as our strength to bear and endure ‘all these things’ the incredible gift that it is.
- I believe Jesus began producing joy right after His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. When He rose from being doubled over in emotional pain having reached the place of full surrender – for the joy that He was promised – He stood up straight already having won the battle. It was settled. He had resolved and now had only to walk it out. Because He did it was Finished.
- In the same way, when our overwhelm – whatever it may be – is overtaken through Him loving us, we grow in our capacity to ‘more than conquer’ because Christ already charted the course ahead of us.
- Victory produces joy, the richest spoil of war. There is nothing quite like the flood of joy-strength that comes right when we need it. Oswald Chambers said, “Think of the satisfaction it will be to hear Jesus say ‘Well done’; to know that you have done what He sent you to do.” ‘More than conquer’ joy is sweet reward upon hearing God’s commendation.
Though our courses contain various of ‘all these things’ unique to God’s plan and purpose for each of us, we need not travel alone or rely on our own grit (or gritted teeth). Jesus the Joy Producer invites us to journey with Him, learning from the Best of the best what produces joy.
Here helping others live life forward as our Joy Producer arranges.
1 Nehemiah 8:10
2 Hebrews 12:2
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