Choose Joy: Let go of the past and reach for your ONE THING.
We’re all in this together–brethren is a family word. Paul affirms that the playing field is level, we are all in the process of growing closer to Christ. The more we reach forward, placing confidence in Christ and letting go of the pressure of the flesh, the more fully we respond to the beckoning call of God.
So much more than a feeling, joy comes by reaching for more of Christ. It seems natural to want to pull in and stay right where we are, holding onto every bit of joy we can scrounge up, as if there isn’t enough to go around.
Then we read these in-process, on-my-way words again. Joy begins to seep in through the cracks as we realize, it’s okay.
A realistic view comes as we let go of the joy stealer that we should have already arrived. These Spirit-words of Paul echo through the ages, and we receive permission to be in process. Every single one of us is not “there” yet, and joy comes anyway.
No matter how the days stack up, there is always more to learn, more to experience in this Christ-life. Out of all the things Paul did in this life, he narrowed it all down to the right priority of ONE THING.
- ONE THING worth first place in our desires and priorities and the ceaseless-longings of our wild hearts.
- ONE THING to fill up the doing of a life.
- ONE THING that shines brighter than all the things a man can accomplish or accumulate.
- ONE THING that holds the joy of mercy for every failing, need, or sin.
Whether the past holds good or bad, success or failure, only ONE THING calls us forward. Letting go of the memories, guilts, wishes, and whatever else is packed away in the suitcases of our past–we let it go. Hanging on to the past holds us back and steals joy.
Friend, join me in realizing that we can’t see to move forward if we stay focused on the past. It’s hard to go forward when we’re walking backwards.
If we walk into the future with eyes on the past, we trip over the rocks in our path. Staying focused on the past feeds dissatisfaction, fuels guilt, prevents healing, stunts growth, and steals joy right out from under our unsteady feet.
It is in this responsive confidence in Christ that joy wells up and overflows.
This is what we’re after, what we long for with every unsettled, restless ache of the heart.
Joy Stealer: Running after the wrong prize.
How often we make prizes of goals we set for ourselves. Often with the best of intention, we veer slightly off course, twisting a good thing into a ONE THING. Our prize becomes the getting of God’s good gifts rather than the deep knowing of God.
Yes and yes, it is easy to prize the blessing of God rather than the presence of God.
And isn’t it tempting to narrow our response to God’s calling to what we can do for Him? The prize in this case becomes the work we accomplish for God rather than the life we live with God. Like squinting into the wind, the prize blurs, and we begin to believe that our value is set by what we achieve for God. The relentless chase to prove our worth steals joy as we try to run a race we cannot win.
So today, let’s choose joy.
Stop running after everything but the ONE THING
that brings true joy.
In this moment, we can let go of everything that keeps us from reaching forward into Christ and into joy. I say this to you as a reminder to myself. We can drop feelings of defeat layered with fear. Opening our hands, we release judgment and anger and misplaced priorities.
And together we will reach. We will run forward with everything we’ve got. Reach forward not to win some prize we set for ourselves, but to know the joy of fully responding to the upward call of God.
So finally, at the end of it all, choose joy in the Lord for He is with us every step of the way.
10 Steps to Choosing Joy
These steps recap insights from Philippians 3.
Thanks so much for joining me in discovering the power of choosing joy. If you missed any posts in this series, you can catch up right here:
What one thought about joy means the most to you?