The Danger of Following the Wrong Path
Galatians 4: 8-20 (NRSVA)
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods. 9 Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? 10 You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. 11 I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted.
12 Friends, I beg you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong. 13 You know that it was because of a physical infirmity that I first announced the gospel to you; 14 though my condition put you to the test, you did not scorn or despise me, but welcomed me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What has become of the goodwill you felt? For I testify that, had it been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you may make much of them. 18 It is good to be made much of for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 I wish I were present with you now and could change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
What has happened to your joy?
Friends, I am going to admit something to you. After the first few months of being in full-time ministry I had a flakey at God, saying, ‘why have you called me into ministry, it has stolen my joy!’ I felt so bad about this as the people in my new church are wonderful. But feeling I had lost my joy was a huge deal to me. For as long as I can remember, ever since I was a wee child, it has been my joy that has defined me. I am a joyful person. That is always what people always comment on. My joy is infectious. It is a gift from God.
I was lost, friends, when I could no longer feel it. Not just lost, but bereft.
And God said to me, ‘I haven’t stolen your joy, Laura and ministry hasn’t stolen your joy, you have just allowed yourself to be overwhelmed by the changes in your life. You are looking back on what was, instead of taking hold of this opportunity and welcoming what is to come.’
I was like, ‘Oh!’ God was right, instead of being excited at this new opportunity to serve him in a new community, I was looking back at my old life, my old house, my old village. I was focused on what I didn’t like about the city, instead of the possibilities. Dwelling on old relationships instead of nurturing the new ones. Feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility and admin my new role entails, moaning I didn’t have enough time to be creative.
And so I shifted my mindset. I’m focusing on what God is wanting me to do in my new role, not what I think I ‘should’ be doing. I’m taking time to get to know the community in which I now live. I’m taking time everyday to make sure I do something creative. And on God’s prompting, I’ve taken up drawing and painting. Everyday I’m thanking God for all that is good in my life. And do you know what, my joy has returned and with abundance!
Have you lost your joy? Start by asking if you are living by faith in Christ or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others? Take it to the Lord in prayer and ask the Lord for his help in regaining your joy.
Lord, I love you
I am so thankful for all you bring to my life.
Fill me with your joy,
So that I can share it with everyone I meet.