Honestly, I just don’t understand Christians!!
Do you understand why some Christians are victorious while others live in constant defeat?
Why do some Christians experience great joy in spite of sorrow … while others act like spoiled brats. You may know the spoiled brat group … someone from this group may be lurking about your life … nothing makes them happy!
Tell me truthfully …have you figured out why some Christians find deep meaning and purpose in just living their lives daily for Christ? They find pleasure and purpose in changing diapers … taking out the trash and being a light at work. Yet, there is another disproportionately large group of Born-again, blood-bought, filled with the Spirit Believers who are caught in a continual maze of “Who am I?” “Where am I?” “Why am I?”
Why are some Christians known for depression … for whining … for complaining … for negativity? You know who I am talking about because you want to hide when you see them walking toward you down the aisle at church! When you see their number on your caller ID – you are just like me … you ignore it! And yet – there are other Christians who are known for their trademark brand of unsinkable joy – their smile lights up every room into which they walk. These contagious Christians laugh often and bend down to talk to children … they make everyone else feel so much more important than themselves.
Why are some Christians determined to walk in victory …while others seem to take some warped fulfillment in drama and tragedy? These Christians do not go from glory to glory but from drama to drama and are known by the very fitting, descriptive title, “soap queens”.
There are some Christians who find deep contentment in the small, simple blessings of life … the smile of their children … the smell of their husband’s aftershave … or having a cup of coffee with a neighbor. There is yet another very large group of Christians who would find absolutely no pleasure in winning the lottery! There would still be something to complain about,
“Well, you know last month I could have won nearly 2 million dollars more!”
“The government is going to get more than I will!”
“Now I will have every Tom, Dick and Harry asking me for a hand-out!”
I want you to have the secret weapon that will allow you to live your life for Christ in the most miraculous of ways! There is a very real, yet easily solved mystery that will enable you to live above and not below your circumstances! There is a key that will unlock the door of your heart to defiant joy!
I would like to introduce you to a joy that will literally enable you to defy your circumstances or the “hand that you have been dealt”. There is a joy that will take you through every storm, every disappointment, every marital spat, every unpaid bill and every lonely night! This joy will lift you above your unmet expectations and will give you purpose and meaning in the hum-drum of life!
I would like to warn you, however, that this is not an easy way to live. This lifestyle is going to take gut-wrenching determination and relentless discipline. This way to do life is not for the weak … the weary … or the insipid! Wait a minute! What am I talking about?! Of course it is for you – it is especially for you! It is for all of us!
The sad reality is this – only a few of you will choose this way of living. Only a few will choose joy over depression and victory over defeat. Only a handful of believers will have the tenacity to tie themselves to triumph rather than tragedy or trauma.
Before you read another word of this book, let me protect you from wasting your time. Do not read this book if you are not desperate for joy and for the power that it will bring into your life! Do not think that this book is written by a self-help guru or is filled with pop psychology. I hope that you saved your receipt because if you think that this book has the sweetness of a Hallmark card, the fragrance of a bouquet of springtime flowers or the plasticity of a pasted-on smile then you have my permission and my blessing to get your money back!
This book is about joy that is defiant. It is about how you find that kind of joy, how to embrace that kind of joy and then how to keep that kind of joy. Some chapters will be painful while others will be rich with deep, Biblical insight. Some chapters will cause you to step on your spiritual tip-toes while others will be marked by stark simplicity and raw challenge. If you are desperate for a joy that is defiant then … throw away your receipt and read on! I dare you to choose joy!
CAN YOU AFFORD JOY?
There are at least 150 Scriptures in the Bible that contain the word “joy”! H-m-m-m-m, sounds thematic to me … does it to you?! Isaiah tells us that we are to joyfully draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
Jesus has a well in your yard with your name on it that belongs to you and to no one else. This well in the yard of your life is a deep and healthy well that will never run dry. It is way, way down – in the deepest part of this well – that the secret to defiant joy is found. Most Christians are not willing to dig deeply enough to reach the miraculous spot where His joy is just waiting for them! However, there is a “catch” concerning this well and the catch is this: you have to be willing to pay the price for the water of joy. Although this well is a deep and healthy well that will never run dry – this is one expensive well. Salvation is the only commodity that is free in the Kingdom of God – with every other spiritual blessing, you must be willing to pay top dollar!
You have to do some hard work to obtain the joy that is waiting for you in the well with your name on it! You have to be willing to sweat … and to strain … and then to pull and perhaps to dig deeply below the surface of your life. Are you willing? Are you desperate enough to pay the price for this joy?
Many women come to me, pleading, “Carol! I want to be just like you! I want to face life the way that you do! I want to have the joy that you have!”
If I were truly honest with these desperate housewives, I would respond something like this:
“Do you really?!”
“Do you want to pay the price that I have paid?”
“Do you want to make the hard choices that I have had to make?”
I am not building myself up here – there is not one ounce of pretense in my response to these women. I am just telling you the simple truth. There is a price to pay for joy that I am not sure that you are willing to afford. Joy costs an astronomical sum and don’t fool yourself by assuming that joy is free.
The Psalmist says it differently than this but the message is the same, “In His presence is fullness of joy!” (Psalm 16:11) You will find all the joy that you will ever need this side of heaven in His presence. His presence is the payment for joy on earth – Do you have enough of His presence to make a down payment on joy? Or, are you bankrupt when it comes to His enduring presence in your life? Do you stay in His presence long enough to experience defiant joy? Or, like your quiet times, is joy just a little blip on the radar screen of your life?
If you are not reading your Bible every single day of your life, joy will be that illusive butterfly that flits in and out of your world. If you are not on your face before the Lord every day then you will never experience the joy that is pervasive enough to take you through rebellious children, cancer and bankruptcy. This “on your face” kind of commitment has nothing to do with whether you are Methodist or Charismatic … Baptist or Pentecostal … Episcopal or Presbyterian. It just means that you are willing to join Abraham, Moses, Jehosophat, David, Daniel, the three boys in the fiery furnace, Hannah, Mary, Elizabeth, Paul and many others in their desperation to have enough of His presence to make a down payment on joy!
It is all really a choice, isn’t it? I am 51 years old now – I am quite sure that I have lived at least half of my life! Of this one thing I am certain: I will choose joy! There is no other way to live! I will bask in His presence and stay at His feet. I will become addicted to the Word of God and devour each sweet morsel. I will choose joy … the question remains yet for you to answer: Are you desperate? Are you desperate to do life His way and to choose joy? Will you choose joy? I dare you! I dare you to choose joy!