The songs sing it. The people speak it. Our hearts expect it.
We're joyful at the coming of Christ. Because Christ is Joy. Salvation is joy.
Days of celebration often make it easy to be joyful. There are people to see, gifts to unwrap, goodies to munch, and moments to remember.
But the joy that hovers on the most mundane of days can be harder to grab onto. These types of days aren't exciting. Just normal. Things and people frustrate, cars won't start, and then someone throws up through the night leaving you an exhausted heap by morning.
Joy. It's an every day choice.
I set my alarm for 6:30 on this, the first official day of Christmas vacation because I had great plans to get up, and start my morning routine. The one I've been trying to start since September. Ahem.
I complete the most important part of it every day. Bible reading, prayer, getting dressed... you, know, the key stuff. But there's another part that when added to the routine, makes me come alive in a different sort of way.
But something always stands in the way of me taking this time for myself. Usually that something is me. I stay up too late, or hit snooze 17 times, or feel stiff and cruddy when I first wake up making it hard to get out of bed.
Once I realize I've missed my chance again, I feel behind already when the day hasn't really begun. And I feel a little off. Like there's a battle for joy being fought on the battlefield of my heart.
Because there is.
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Today I got out of bed at 7:45, which still left me with 45 minutes of alone time before the kids would arrive in the kitchen. But the baby who normally wakes around 8:30 or 9:00 was already wailing. Because she wakes up like a firecracker. This blue-eyed baby of mine.
I quickly take her a bottle, which will buy me a few minutes to at least get dressed before seeing a little person earlier than I'd planned.
I chose joy in the moment, reveling in the one-on-one time with this little one.
Phew. I made it across one intersection smoothly.
But the next crossroads I would face would tell a different story.
Enter six more kids. And breakfast for many and a mom who has yet to brush her teeth. Or have food or coffee.
Then add in several lies told by the same child, some poop in the bathtub (yes, poop in the bathtub), and a pan full of burnt eggs. And you get a mama who is plopped smack in the middle of a battlefield fighting for joy. I ache for joy, I cry out for joy. But still, even still - I don't always chose it.
It's a fight. A daily battle. If someone tells you they don't have to fight for joy? They're lying to you.
Because heaven is the only place filled with unstoppable joy. Unending joy that fills to overflowing. But on that morning in the manger, all those years ago, Mary gave birth to Unending Joy. Joy came down into the world as a gift for all of us. But only those who would believe would unwrap it. Unending joy would be theirs too. Forever. But first we must live here. Among the mess and the muck; the struggle and the sin. The lives we try so hard to make joyful and pleasant can get bogged down and become joyless, because well, we're still here. But because He lives in us - we are gifted with Him. And He is Joy.
"And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11
Even with all of this Joy that has come to us and lives in us, we will have trouble. We will have to fight for joy in these earthly shells. But His presence is with us.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Every time you want to pound the floor in despair, curl up in a ball under the covers, bah humbug your circumstances or everyone else's happy, don't forget to forget yourself.
“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”
― John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life
Because that joy comes from outside ourselves,
even when life's a mess and there's poop in the bathtub, we can rejoice.
Even if you're forgetful and the pan full of eggs are burnt, we can rejoice.
"Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other. As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy. Even though. Even now." Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift
Good news from heaven the angels bring,Glad tidings to the earth they sing:To us this day a child is given,To crown us with the joy of heaven.- Martin Luther