August 20, 2010

Joy: A Little Goes a Long Way

I recently took on the horrendous task of cleaning my toaster oven.  I am convinced that this is the worst job in the house.  I'd rather clean a hundred toilets than tackle the greasy, nasty, cheese-crusted toaster oven.  So, it goes unattended until I can no longer stand it.  Which just makes matters worse.  The rack is completely black - coated with who knows what.  The bottom of the oven is filled with crumbs that hide a pan of solid grease underneath.  Gross.  Disgusting.  I pulled on my gloves and grabbed the Joy dishwashing liquid.  After manhandling the toaster oven in order to maneuver it over the sink at just the right angle to dump the crumbs out, I squirted Joy on the pan.  And, do you know that the Joy started eating away at the grease making it so much easier for me to wipe the nastiness away? 

Staring at the inside of the now-clean toast oven, it occurred to me that God had a lesson in this chore that I detested.  When my life seems to be covered in the grease and grime that comes with a steady diet of this corrupt world, sometimes all I need is to remember my Joy.  The Joy that comes from the LORD.  Joy that bubbles over and spills out all over the grunge that covers the deep, dark recesses of my heart, washing it away. 

Joy is defined as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a state of happiness or felicity.  But, you know, the Joy of the LORD goes so much deeper.  It is what sustains us when unthinkable trials come our way.  It is what bubbles up and out of us when there is no reason on earth for us to be "happy".  It is the fruit of our faith in a God who is always with us, came down to be one of us, died on a cruel cross for us, and is coming back for us.

"Consider it ALL JOY, my brethren, when you encounter various trials."  James 1:2

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."  Galatians 5:22-23

But, we cannot possess this kind of Joy without Christ.  There is no way that we are capable of taking delight in trials and temptations unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is His Joy that consumes us and makes us aware of His Presence when things go awry in this life.

"These things I have spoken to you so that My JOY may be in you, and that your JOY may be made full."  John 15:11

For only Jesus could have endured something as horrible and terrifying as the cross with Joy.

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Hebrews 12:2

Did you see that?  He took on the cross of our sins for the JOY set before Him!  And, if we only will look to Him, this same kind of Joy will not only cut the grease in our lives, it will eventually spill out into the lives of others.

"Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of JOY and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord."  2 Corinthians 8:1-3

So, when you are having one of those greasy, grimy, grungy kind of days, seek out the Joy of the LORD.  He enables you to withstand this broken world with the Joy of knowing that there is a greater life to come.  As you begin to develop a delight for the LORD, you will find less of that fatty oil on the bottom of your pan.  Your perspective will change as the grease is wiped away by your Joy.  As the bottle says, "A little goes a long way."


Sara said...

Love it! I think I can turn this into a children's sermon! Thanks for spreading the 'joy'!

Melissa said...

A great word picture of how to take our eyes off our circumstances and tap into His Joy that surpasses all understanding. Thanks Jenny.

Mommy of 2 and 2 said...

I love how God spoke to you through an everyday (or not so everyday) chore and helped reveal an amazing truth! Thanks for sharing....I LOVE how HE is using you to write such profound things! Love you girl!!