[Note to those who attend Kingsway. This title is not intended to infringe upon our Lead Pastor’s message this week. I began this blog on Tues/Wed. Christopher shared with me the title for his sermon on Thurs. That’s when I added the ellipsis and ‘Sonia Style.’ I have no idea what passage or what topics Matt Nickoson will cover, so any overlap or disconnect is purely coincidental.]
Over the course of the last few months there have been many moments (more than I can count on both hands and both feet) where I intentionally ‘choose joy.’ Someone asked me recently, ‘what does that look like – choosing joy?’ I loved the question because it forced me to think through my own words, thoughts, and actions. So, here is the answer I shared with her. Essentially, there are three principles that guide me in ‘choosing joy.’
Honoring God’s Word – Joy is mentioned 203 times in the English Standard Version; 242 times in the New International Version; and 333 times in the New Living Translation -it’s important to God, so it should be important to me.
- Reference 165 occurs in Proverbs, Chapter 16, verse 20 [Pro 16:20]: Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.
- Proverbs 29:18, When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
- Luke 15:10 tells us: In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.
- Acts 2:28 shares this: You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.
- Romans 14:17 is another favorite: For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Romans 15:13 shares a beautiful prayer: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Or, what about Paul’s final words to the Corinthians? 2 Cor 13:11 -Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.
Focusing on truth – the truth never wavers. Everyone is unique. Your perception may be different than mine, but the truth sets all of us free.
- My dad was such a blessing in my life. I enjoyed him for 40 years. Some people do not have a daddy in their life (note – not referencing God in these examples); do not have relationship with their dad; lose their dad to combat, illness, or something else much earlier, or do not understand – tomorrow is never a promise.
- Acknowledging the other blessings in my life. My ex-SIL recently (same day as my dad’s bypass surgery) had her foot and six inches past her ankle amputated. Today, she’s still navigating the learning curve that comes with a wheelchair. I have all of my limbs and all of my senses. My eyesight alone allows me to see sunrises, sunsets, my daughter’s smile, my husband’s eyes, and so much more. If we take the time to think about it, the blessings are there. For me the list begins like this: amazing husband; beautiful daughter; safety when I travel (so far so good); cars (not new, but, still, they get us where we need/want to go); home; heat; electricity (ask someone who’s visited Haiti – how wonderful is that); and the list goes on and on and on. Not kidding. If you need more examples, I am happy to help. I really can choose joy in any situation. Yes, I miss my dad more than words, but I assure you the joy is there.
Loving others – so easy to say, but, this might be the hardest to live consistently.
- Whenever we extend patience -at the intersection of love and wisdom; kindness -as an action; peace and understanding -where there is chaos and turmoil; faithfulness -loving without strings; prayer -standing in the gap on behalf of others; or integrity -expressing/demonstrating truth in love, we can also choose joy. It’s there – every time.
- Perspective -yes? Loving others changes our perspective. There’s something to be said for ‘walking a mile in the shoes of someone else.’ The empathy we feel makes ‘choosing joy’ easier. Our blessings are abundant, but they are different.
Anyone who knows me well also knows that this is my soapbox: Life is a gift, full of choices. God gives us the choices as an outpouring of His love. Today and every day, I want to choose joy. Choosing joy changes me by focusing my thoughts and my actions on the fruit of the Spirit (proactive response vs. expected reaction). Does this mean I have ‘choosing joy’ mastered? Not even close. I am still and will always be a work in progress, thankful for new mercies.