Joy 

I’ve been reading the book “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge. I’m only on chapter 3, but so far I give it a 10/10 and definitely recommend reading it. The book is centered on discovering the personality of Christ through His life here on earth. It breaks down stories and brings to light moments that more than likely we over look as not important when reading them.

This morning I was reading on how Christ is playful. How He has a sense of humor. It got me thinking on how the only side of Christ we show the world is His “serious” side, or maybe that’s the only side of Him that we truly know? Christ is all loving, all gracious, and all merciful, BUT in being all that He’s so much more. Religion has diminished the meaning of love, grace, and mercy to one dimensional definitions, to words. Something that can be thoroughly explained in a few sermons and through rules alone, but Christ can’t be put on paper nor broken up into rules. Christ has to be experienced.

His Love, grace, and mercy gives us access to so much more than His forgiveness and salvation alone. It’s through His love, grace, and mercy that He shows us the joy that it is to live life with Him.

His love washes away our sins so that we can walk in His light. His grace favors us with His love so that we don’t have to live in shame. His mercy showers us with His grace so that we can walk a life worthy of Him.

His love, grace, and mercy give us access to His joy. We don’t emphasize that enough. We use His love, grace, and mercy as an excuse to continue to “mess up” because He’s got us covered, right? And yes, He does. Yes, we will mess up but we shouldn’t continue to mess up over the same things over and over again. Mistakes are mess ups that happen once. After that they’re not “mistakes” anymore; they’re choices. His love, grace, and mercy is not an excuse to excuse our choices but a reason to make better ones. At some point we need start living in the gift of freedom that He has given us. It’s in that freedom that we will truly experience His joy. In the words of Bethel, “We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of God”. It’s time we start living like it and experience the joy that it is to live a life worthy of not only who He is, but what He’s done for us.

I think I finally grasp what Nehemiah means when he says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (8:10). His joy is all around us. When we can’t find it in us all we have to do is find it in Him, in His creation. It’s in the smile of a kid. It’s in the upbeat personality of a worker at Walmart. It’s in the playfulness of a rescued puppy. It’s in the humor of an inside joke. It’s in the attempt of a failed dunk at a basketball game. It’s in the compliments of strangers. It’s in the smiles of those around us. It’s in the words we keep to ourselves. It’s in the rain. It’s in the dancing of palm leaves in the air in tune with the breeze. It’s in the warm embrace of sunlight. It’s in the crash of each wave. It’s in the simplicity of life. It’s all around us. It’s in His love that gave us life. It’s in His grace that gave us a chance. It’s in His  mercy that gave us hope. It’s in Him. All we have to do is look beyond our hearts, beyond what we are feeling, beyond what our eyes can see, look into His heart, and see life through His eyes. “God saw all that He had made and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Let’s make that an excuse to do good and prove God right.

Heartfull Whispers

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