Keith Reid, a friend at church taught our Sunday School class last week. His lesson was on transparency...he spoke of how as believers we often hide behind a mask. Whether or not this is intentional, giving the appearance that we have it everything under control is misleading to other believers as well as those outside the fellowship of faith in Christ. It was a good lesson, pertinent and well reasoned - Biblically solid.So, Keith got me to thinking. Anyone who has spent more than thirty minutes with me knows that what you see is what you get. I'd like to think I travel though life with grace and poise, but the truth is more often than not I get tickled at myself because I'm such a dork, klutz, or goofball (all fit)! I don't fit anyones cookie-cutter image of what a mom, believer, church secretary, or Avon Lady looks like. I fail...A LOT. I'm a HORRIBLE housekeeper (it's so mundane!). I get so busy with life, that I often forget to be still. My spirit needs STILL - not only for my faith development, but for sanity as well. I speed. I snap at my kids, and am often impatient with them. I worry about money, and the future. I get angry at God. I get angry at my spouse. I CAN throw a pretty fantastic pity party!What is all of this leading to? My "tag-line". Several years ago, as part of my work at the Waco Regional Baptist Network (now WRBAssociation) I wrote a semi-regular newsletter to Ministry Assistants who served the pastors and churches of the WRBN. The title of that newsletter grew out of what has been my personal and professional email signature for at least 5 years now: "Such Joy!". I still sign my emails with that exclamation and use it for the name of my blog. While reflecting on Keith's Sunday School lesson, I realized it might be misleading. You see, I chose, and continue to choose to make "Such Joy!" a theme in my life. Not as an achievement of where I am, but as a reminder of WHOSE I am. "Such Joy!" reminds me to choose joy. To stretch my faith when the days are dark and dreary. To trust that my Savior can redeem even this (insert your crummiest day here) situation to His glory and my benefit. James, author of the book of James in the New Testament whips my butt regularly with the first chapter of his letter. Starting in verse 2 he reminds me of the transforming power of my Jesus.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."And then there is this from Hebrews " ...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" Hebrews 12:1-2In my mind, HOPE and JOY are intrinsically linked. Hope causes me to choose joy-clinging to the promises of Christ. Joy reminds me that hope, real biblical hope, is rooted only in my Savior. He alone is able to free me, release me into full joy. He alone is able to turn my mess of a life into a pleasing offering to Him. I write today in an effort to remove a mask I may have inadvertently been wearing in front of you. Rather than an announcement of where I am, "Such Joy!" is a clarion call for me to remember that my name is a reflection of His name. That in this life I will have many trials and troubles, and that His desire for me it that I allow him to redeem them. That I allow him to use the sludge of life like an oyster uses a grain of sand - to make something beautiful.My prayer for you is..." that the God of hope (will) fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13