Good morning all! So quick question. Can you guess what my greatest Joy is? This is one of those blog post ideas that I had once upon a time and I wrote down this great idea (a title) and no other details! UGH! Yes I have learned from my mistake But each week as I read through my post idea list this one almost taunts me. Coming out of a season where I had to be super intentional about my gratitude and having to REALLY hone in my sights to what brings me true joy- I struggled to remember what laid behind this blog post. That is until this Sunday.
So what makes something the “GREATEST”
When I think of “the greatest”. I think about the absolute best And coming out of the Olympic season we heard the term GOAT. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why on earth it was a compliment to be called a GOAT…..that is I finally put two and two together and realized it stood for “Greatest Of All Time”. AHA but as the Olympics continued on we began to see that GOATs weren’t perfect. They might be considered the Best in the world (at that time) but it didn’t mean they were perfect.
Since Sunday and realizing and remembering what my greatest joy is I kept coming back to this word perfect. Greatest does not equal perfect. Jesus is my perfect joy- I get so much joy from Him….and that is where my greatest joy stems from.
I took a step forward
But not like you might be thinking. I was in the middle of praising Jesus and all of a sudden a thought came to mind. So I took a tiny step forward and glanced down our row of chairs. And what I saw and heard struck the deepest sense of joy I have felt in a long time. And all I had to do is LOOK. I didn’t have t do anything. I didn’t need to get anything. I just needed to pay attention. And then in that moment my reason for putting that post title came flooding back….
What I saw…and heard
Looking to my left and right I saw 4 kids who were worshipping Jesus in their own way…without any reservation. They weren’t being judged they were in their own spaces one on one lifting the name of their Savior in song You could tell it was personal. AND THAT brought me my greatest joy and made me praise Jesus all the more.
And as that welled up in my soul, thoughts came flooding back- of a teenager asking me (very sheepishly) if I could read the Bible with her. Or another teenager asking if I would go forward with her at a youth conference. Seeing tears flow down her faces she prayed which in turn made me ugly cry because I had been praying for this girl for oh so long.
To see a group of 17 teenagers- boys and girls embrace and love each other like I have never seen any other group of humans ever do. Such different backgrounds….such different experiences….such different economic backgrounds…encourage each other lift each other up…and just care. Yes they had their moments of disagreement but that was rare.
To watch on any given Sunday morning a herd of children run up to new kids and invite them to “come play with us in the gym”. To swallow up the new ones, it wasn’t an exclusive club for these kids. They wanted to include everyone because they themselves had been included.
Teens who would share their deepest burdens of their hearts because they felt safe.
Women who were honest about where they were at- tears shed as they shared their broken places.
And then I remembered – my Greatest Joy WAS perfect every single time-
Changed Lives- It didn’t matter how it happened or how messy it was. When people were honest with themselves and really let Jesus change them- there is nothing better (except for seeing them all in heaven someday.)
BUT My greatest Joy is also linked to my greatest sorrow
This was a harsh reality for me Monday and I am not going to lie all of the emotions that flooded my soul was rough. I was angry I was sad I was disappointed. I was crushed.
I’m not going to tell you what happened but I will give you a breakdown…..
- selfishness (putting oneself before others)
- mistreatment of others
- a limiting of grace to someone else (the idea that You only deserve this much …………because of………….)
The list could go on. There was this realization that people aren’t willing to change.. They know what is right and wrong. They can even verbalize it BUT they are unwilling to let that change them. Their hearts are hard. They think they are entitled, They make an exclusive club and they limit God’s grab for certain people. THAT is my greatest sorrow because that isn’t what God teaches in his word.
Jesus says “Love your Neighbor as yourself”
We ask “who is our neighbor?” looking for a specific easy to love group of people -mostly the ones just like us.
Jesus answers EVERYONE.
We don’t get to pick and choose who get’s love, grace and mercy. But we tend to think that we get to be that judge. We don’t. we are commanded to (to quote NIKE) -“JUST DO IT”
And at the end of the day
My realization was this
- I’m glad Jesus doesn’t treat us like this.
- that I am called to be like Jesus so I need to treat people like Jesus treats me
- It’s not my job to withhold grace mercy and love- it’s my job to lavishly give it out- just like those kids. who didn’t see backgrounds, color, economic standing , or anything else for that matter
- I need to die to self and put others before myself
- I need to not just take in the information from God’s word I need to apply it . And Not just bits and pieces that make me comfortable
- It’s not about what is easy for me. It’s not about my time, my money, my strength. It’s about serving Jesus with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength- REALLY my whole life- not holding anything back. It’s not about Convenience. (It wasn’t easy or convenient for Jesus to die on the cross)
All of this from a bunch of teenagers and a bunch of kids. Oh how we have lost sight of what is most important. I promise you if you can learn these lessons from children you too will experience the greatest Joy because it’s not MY greatest Joy- It’s Jesus’!!!!!
Thanks for joining me for Day 38 of my Choosing Courage 100 day blogging project. If you are new here you can check out this blog post that explains it all.
And if you have fallen behind or missed some posts you can check it out here