Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Joy Here, in Real Life

Sunday evening found me praying in the car, fighting back tears, willing myself for the umpteenth time to choose truth over emotions. My weekend retreat was full of blessings, but now I was about to return to real life. And as much as I missed my husband and my boys, I did not miss the especially-intense-recently parenting struggles, the constant failure and exposure of my ugly heart. I had enjoyed the 48-hour escape, maybe a little too much, and now I was fighting to re-enter well. 

As I drove the last stretch toward home by myself, having dropped off two friends and their luggage, my mind went to that familiar favorite, Psalm 16. I reminded myself that "the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance" (v. 6). Then I repeated aloud, as a desperate prayer, the last verse:

"...in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." 

If there is fullness of joy in His presence...and He is present everywhere, inescapable, never leaving or forsaking me...then there is joy HERE. Not just on a retreat, during a break from my responsibilities and my struggles. Not just two hours away from home, surrounded by like-minded friends, unneeded by dependent children. HERE.

In the past, I always read this verse as a hopeful Heaven promise. You know, on That Day, when every tear is wiped away, and sin and satan are forever destroyed, when we stand in the presence of God, *that's* where fullness of joy is. Here, today? Not so much.

But Sunday evening, as I took a deep breath and prepared for the whining and the correction and the call to die that would come with the hugs and giggles, I remembered that I must fight for joy. It may be hiding. It is not all sunshine and rainbows; it may not look like I expect or think I prefer. But I am in His presence here. That means there is joy here.

And then I thought about the last line: at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Again, I've always read it as a Heaven promise. When we stand before God's throne--when we can actually be present next to Him--we'll experience ultimate pleasure. But this time it struck me: Who is at God's right hand? "Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Romans 8:34). Pleasures at God's right hand are pleasures in Jesus. Jesus came in order that I might know full and lasting joy! So my calling every day, here, in the midst of normal life, is to seek and find pleasure in Jesus--not trust in idols that disappoint, not run for refuge to things that offer temporary, fleeting happiness, but abide in Christ.

Some days, I am not honestly sure how. But over and over and over again, God is trying to teach me to believe Him and fight for joy and choose to praise Him and trust Him here, now. In His presence there is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore and He is *here* and joy is here. I will tell myself until I know it to be true.

[edited repost from the archives]



Danielle said...

Amen sister! I was just reading yesterday about Jesus' birth announcement and about how many times joy was mentioned in Luke 1-2. I wrote in my journal that Jesus=Joy. Something for me to try to always remember.

BTW, read this post the other day and it encouraged me to no end. Thought it might do the same for you: http://lysaterkeurst.com/2012/01/i-dont-want-to-raise-a-good-child/

Amy said...

Danielle, I saw that article when a couple of friends linked to it on FB last week - I loved it, too.