November 28, 2021
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
This email came over the Thanksgiving holiday. The opening line said it all.
“Jesus is changing my life.”
I asked if he had time and was inclined to tell me more of the story. He wrote:
“The story is long. Your part, I was depressed, tired, stage 4 cancer, chemo, for 5 years. Getting selfish, self centered. I started listening to the seed bed a couple of years ago. When I started listening, I started studying. Every night I listen, study, pray, review on my day. My thoughts left me and I started realizing JESUS, start to finish JESUS. I learned from the word we were studying, started praying for everyone, all day. Started living JESUS. I have learned so much but really it is just knowing JESUS through all things. JD, it is so much more and I love you and pray for you. It is so complicated but so simple.”
My goodness, friends! This is the miracle: “I started realizing JESUS, start to finish JESUS. . . Started living JESUS.”
It brings me to yet another mind-blowing bible text, but first, let’s get our coordinates. We are catching our breath in the Holy Spirit oxygen-rich environment of Valley #18, learning the way of “yetting,” the mystery of joy, and the practice of “rejoicing in the Lord,” and yes all of this before anything changes—while still nursing the wounds of Descent #17. This is the gracious work of Valley #18, preparing us for Ascent #19. As we learn to rejoice in the Lord at the bottom, we find a strange shifting of the center of our gravity. We go from all manner of striving after any form of strength we can find (including endlessly asking God to help us) to realizing “The Sovereign Lord is my strength.”
For the last several days I have been wanting to roll out this word from Jesus. It comes from my most all-time favorite campsite in the whole Bible: John 15. O.K., it is really more of a five star resort and spa for me at this point. After walking us through the most plain-spoken miraculous truth ever released about his life being revealed and sourced through our lives, Jesus tells us why he has just told us it all.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11
This brings a whole new dimension to the saying, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
The joy of the Lord is not a silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud. The joy of the Lord is the revolutionary presence of Jesus Christ himself—in us—transcending our mortal bodies with his eternal life, presence, para-klasis (encouragement), Hoop-O-Money (perseverance), love, power, and all the possibilities this means. The joy of the Lord is not a, “but look on the bright side” approach to life. This is no “glass half full” mentality. With Jesus, there is no glass (or spoon), only fullness. The joy of the Lord is exactly what he said:
“I started realizing JESUS, start to finish JESUS. . . Started living JESUS.”
. . . so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Father, thank you for the joy of Heaven and that you haven’t reserved it for some future state. Thank you for showing us this fullness of joy right here and right now in the life and presence of your son, Jesus. Lord Jesus, we want your joy in us so that our joy may be complete. Lead us to this treasured and gifted place of every day life, and use our trials to make it even more real. Holy Spirit, you are the joy maker, the one who takes the joy of Jesus and over-fills our lives. For your namesake, Jesus, Amen.
Where do you see the joy of Jesus in the stories of the Gospels? Where do you see the joy of Jesus in the lives of people you know? Where do you detect it rising in your life?
P.S. I’ve got a good idea for some CHRISTMAS GIFTS
For the Awakening,