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Choosing Joy

The older I get the more I’m convinced that less is more. As I encounter people along my path, I hear their stories and can often quickly identify or conclude how “busy” their lives are. It sometimes causes me to raise the question, “What are you chasing?” Is it career, wealth, educational or social status, and even dare I say it-ministry recognition? What truly captures your thoughts, attention, and energy? What are you willing to lose sleep over, go the extra mile to obtain, or allow to consume your time without question? Of course there is nothing wrong with pursuing your God-ordained destiny. But is it possible that sometimes maybe we are busier with “stuff,” activities, and that which has no eternal value more so than we are being fruitful fulfilling our kingdom assignments, being present in the moment, and living in the presence of our God daily?

I remember a season in my life when I was consumed with being busy. I distinctly recall saying to God, “Lord, you said you’d put no more on me than I can bear, but right now I feel like my plate is running over with everything I have to do!” As loving and tender as only our Father can be, He gently replied, “The things I’ve called you to bear are bearable, but some of the stuff on your plate, you’ve placed there and I never told you to bear it.” I realized that everything I was doing while yet being busy, I was not necessarily being fruitful. I was not being productive chasing good things and good ideas. I had to learn that every good thing and good idea was not a GOD-thing or GOD-idea. It seemed as if I were at a point where I knew I wanted more of God and I sensed God calling me higher, closer, and deeper in Him. There was only one problem. I really did not have any more time to devote to God. You see, I had so many other things filling my space and time that it didn’t leave much room for God. I’m not proud to admit this, but God was not the center of my day-in, day-out living. He was not my first priority. He was getting my leftovers.

Whenever we decide that we want God more than anything else, it will require that we make room in our lives for Him. The less we spend our time chasing other things, the more time we have to spend chasing God. Literally, you will be amazed at how much time you can re-direct to being with God when you cut out the non-essentials. Sometimes, we also need to revisit our time-management skills and show forth a little more discipline when it comes to guarding our private time with God. It is only when we prize His presence above all else that we will abandon all else to worship Him. I love the biblical account of Mary and Martha’s reaction to Jesus’ visit. In Luke 10:38-42 (NIV), the following passage is recorded:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I think the reason I love this passage so much is because it really cuts to the chase-nothing is more important than being with Jesus! In a nutshell, Martha was busy with work and cumbered with preparations. But Mary positioned herself at the feet of Jesus. Can’t you just imagine her hanging on His every word, taking it all in, with awe and wonder of His greatness? The beautiful thing about worship is that we have that same opportunity to experience the same thing Mary did if we are simply willing to make the time to linger in God’s presence, to turn our pursuit toward Him instead of this world, and chase Him like our life depended on it…because it does, He is our source, He is our lifeline!

With the welcome of another beautiful season, this is the perfect time to also welcome the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit to help us re-evaluate, “What exactly am I chasing?” Pray and ask the Lord to show you the difference between what He has graced you to bear and what you need to release. Remember that you choose joy every day when you choose to be with the Father. Joy is now, because now is the time to worship and encounter what can only be experienced in the presence of God. Psalm 16:11 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” So go ahead, go and be with your Daddy and delight in Him. Linger a little longer than you planned. Your time is in His hands. Let His presence consume all of you completely.

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