"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands." - Psalm 143:5

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Joy Stealers

It’s another quick peek into “RETOOLED: Shaping our Fathering from the Inside Out”. The book shows how the Fruit of the Spirit can work through us and impact our fathering skills. Today a small sample from the Chapter “Joy Ride” 

Peace,
Jay

Joy Stealersburglar

I know it’s hard to be a father, it requires all we are and more. Constantly  focusing on the needs of others and planning how to meet them is a daunting pursuit. It also carries with it a potentially dangerous relational problem. Focusing on the need and forgetting to notice the person is a possible setup for relational breakdowns. Connecting with the people we love can take on a vending machine quality and our hearts can become distant and callous. Function takes the place of caring and giving of ourselves becomes a matter of distribution not connection.

We might feel undervalued, unappreciated and that can lead to feeling taken advantage of. We begin to view our role as providers as some cold stoic duty and miss the joy of serving others. It can suck the life out of any man when he thinks he’s underappreciated ore respected for his efforts. Simply put, it can rob our joy and quickly dampen our spirits.

Dampening fields forever?

What is a dampening field? It has nothing to do with a poor draining septic field like the one in my backyard. In the Star Trek universe the crew would setup a dampening field to restrict something or someone from getting close to another someone or something. It’s an energy field that interferes with power emissions; a dampening filed can drain an area of power. In effect, it would block the influence of one force over another. In the same manner, spiritual dampening fields hinder the growth of joy in our lives. Now before you dismiss me as a Trekie nutcase I believe this can help us understand this form of joy stealer technology. Spiritual dampening fields can rob the power of healthy relationships, canceling any positive influence. These relationships become routine, lifeless and eventually powerless to grow.

Some Dampening Fields that steal joy:

  • Worry
  • Stress
  • Fear
  • Apathy
  • Ingratitude
  • Regret
  • Circumstancial Evidence – letting the circumstances control your joy

When I struggle with this issue, I find myself questioning the value of what I’m doing and give in to feelings of anger and resentment. This falls right into the enemy’s plan for us! He wants to wear us down by stealing our joy; leaving us vulnerable to accept pleasure and relief as substitutes for joy. Like chugging down some energy drink designed for our spirit, we settle for an occasional pleasure boost or a quick pick-me-up. Some pleasures are not wrong but because they are so short lived; they are a poor substitute for joy. Read this quote and see if it speaks to you like it does to me.

“Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and spiritual joy you have not yet begun to live.”
-Thomas Merton

Dads, remember? God wants us alive, fully alive! He wants to overtake us with joy and gladness, a very nice combo if I must say myself!

“Therefore the redeemed of Jehovah shall return and come with singing into Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their head. Gladness and joy shall overtake them; sorrow and mourning shall flee away”.
Isaiah 51:11 (NKJV)

I know this Scripture in Isaiah is speaking about the future but I know joy is not a far away place. Joy does make sorrow flee away; it has to flee, because joy is stronger!

“Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word for strength means a fortified place, a fortress! Joy is more than a feeling; it’s a safe place that God has provided for us. I’m not sure how to break down a dampening field in Star Trek lingo but here are some ways that work in real life. First, trust in God’s goodness, by understanding that He is in control. It also helps to know the joy stealers of worry, stress, and fear cannot keep God from completing His work in you.

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.” Philippians 1:6

Second, we can break down a spiritual dampening field by cultivating a deep daily relationship with Father God. Diving into His presence fills us with joy power.

“For thou makest him most blessed for ever: Thou makest him glad with joy in thy presence” Psalm 21:6

Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.
- Robert Schuller

The third way we can limit the power of a dampening field by being grateful. A thankful heart makes way for a joy retooling.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” Psalm 28:7

“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: and upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God.” Psalm 43:4

Joy helps us realize that we are more than “need fillers”, just like our Heavenly Father is so much more. Our Heavenly Father knows our needs but He sees the person behind the need first. God can easily meet all our needs. What He desires is to meet with us and deal with them in the flow of relationship. Needs are often just the surface reflections of our life. We sometimes present them as excuses and reasons of why we are the way we are. Thankfully, Father God is not a God of just the surface area; He is a God of the depths. He wants a deep bond with us, strengthening our hearts with joy.

 

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