Monday, September 01, 2008

Complete joy!

Today’s Reading: John 15:10-11 (NIV)

10 [Jesus said,] “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Good morning!

Have you ever experienced complete joy? I remember walking down the aisle, hand-in-hand with my husband after our wedding. That, for me, was a moment of complete joy. I’d say the birth of our children were definitely up there in the complete joy category. I just wish I hadn’t been so tired after giving birth! Watching my grandchildren come into the world was truly a moment of complete joy for me, and it was so much easier than the first time around! Yet, there is one joy-filled moment that shines brighter than all the rest – the day I gave my heart to Jesus.

I was thirteen, hanging out at the church, waiting for my mother to finish up in a meeting. I had wandered into the sanctuary where I found myself alone with God. The sanctuary was dark, except for one light shining behind the cross of Christ. I went to the altar, got down on my knees, and prayed. Something happened. There was no earthquake, no roof collapse, and no one to witness the shift occurring in my heart. Yet, I know, without a doubt, that the Father heard and answered my prayer. I knew the Lord Jesus Christ died to take away my sin, and in that holy moment, I was completely forgiven, redeemed by Christ’s blood, and loved. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to me that day, and it was definitely a time of complete joy. Was the experience something like a strange warming of the heart, as John Wesley described in his Aldersgate experience? Did the mountains move, volcanic eruptions occur, or tidal waves rise high in the ocean? I don’t recall any significant weather changes outside; but I do recall the faint brushing of angels’ wings as they danced before the Father’s throne in praise.

I wish I could say that since that day in the sanctuary, my life has been perfectly joyful, with no problems, no frustrations, and no sin to distract me! That, my friends, would be a lie. It is easy to lose that childlike joy, joy, joy, down in your heart, when you choose to turn and disobey God, not remaining under the umbrella of His love. I’m sure I am the only person on the planet who has ever disobeyed God, questioned matters of salvation and faith, after having received it. The miracle of complete joy was not so much what happened that day in the sanctuary, but in the moments that followed, when I turned, kicked up my heels, and ran in the opposite direction. God let me go, but He never let go, and that is the amazing, miraculous beauty of complete joy.

Jesus said that when we choose to obey His Word and remain within the shelter of His love, His joy will become our joy, and our joy will be complete. If you find yourself wandering far and away from Jesus, I urge you to turn around now. Come back home where you belong. As long as you have breath in your body, it is not too late to begin again. Jesus is waiting, and His joy can be your joy today.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


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