I want to walk into my week excited about the adventure that is life. Alive and alert to possibility. Looking through a lens of love, seeing beauty wherever I look.
But that’s not the way I feel now. Right now, I feel weighed down by mistakes, lacking in energy and all too aware of my failings.
My idealistic vision of the joyful life seems to only exist in a memory of a time gone by, and in a hope for what the future will be. For me, the present moment very rarely radiates this glow.
But surely it’s possible.
One thing I know; we cannot wait for a change in circumstances. The here and now, whatever that looks like, is all we have.
Joy like fresco
Fresco is a style of painting used by the likes of Michelangelo, where watercolours are applied to wet plaster so that the colours penetrate the plaster, becoming one with the plaster as it dries.
We try to paint our lives with colours that cover the surface, but inwardly, we’re unaffected. We might have all the ingredients for what should make a happy life, but they don’t touch the core of who we are.
The colour of our lives must be integral to who we are, mixed into our very make-up.
If we’re going to know real and lasting joy, our hearts must be receptive, like wet plaster, to the inner working of the Joy-Giver.
A joy that runs all the way through
Think of the most vibrant people you know. What is it they have in common? Where does their zest for life come from?
I think integrity has a lot to do with it. Who they are is not painted on. It’s painted in. They do what they do for simple, pure reasons. They’re not trying to manufacture something that isn’t really there.
What they say, is what they do, is who they are. Who they are on the outside runs all the way through them.
I don’t want to live a fake life. If I’m going to know joy, it has to be genuine.
Treat the present moment as one worth fully participating in
The situations we find ourselves in each day are opportunities that, if we’re willing, God uses to shape us into the people He wants us to be.
Be observant, and we can begin to see things from His perspective.
The truth is, that when we’re sensitive to all that is going on around us, a lot of it isn’t so good. Maybe that’s why we find ourselves wanting to tune out so often. It’s hard to be joyful when circumstances are not.
Yet joy is possible when it isn’t painted on. When it goes deep.
James chapter 1 verse 2 is startling: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
It doesn’t seem to make sense. How can we think of the tough times we face as something to be joyful about.
The next two verses explain. “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Well worth it
James is saying that our aim should be to grow to full maturity in Christ. Then, we won’t be lacking anything. Imagine that feeling of being complete!
That’s a goal worth striving for, but we all have a long way to go, and growth isn’t usually pleasant.
Yet the slow warming of ourselves as we sit by the fire of Christ, in prayerful living, thaws the coldness hidden in our hearts.
Face to face with our broken souls, we can’t run. We must let the grace of God change us.
It is as we become aware of His purposes in our struggles, and His presence with us through them, that we discover joy.
Just as I put my body through the pain of exercise because I know it’s doing me good, I should see the struggles God allows me to face in life, as making me more like Jesus, and preparing me for the surpassing joy of heaven.
Christ in us, the hope of glory!
Today as you face whatever lies ahead, don’t hide and don’t tune out. Be alert to the vibrant life of Christ that is powerfully working within you through it all.
Tom likes Indian spices, French cars, British drama and Japanese gardens. He goes running nearly everyday, but early in the morning so that he doesn't miss time with his wife and two young kids. In his spare time, Tom is a Special Needs and Technology teacher.
Tom Anderson is pioneering www.haventogether.com, an online church plant supported by his in-person church, Catalyst, Ipswich. He has a young, growing family and enjoys playing backyard sport. Tom is a keen long-distance runner, averaging 21km each day last year. He has worked as a teacher for eleven years and enjoys perfecting a flat white on his home espresso machine. Tom would welcome a visit for a coffee some time… or an online catch-up via Zoom. See the Haven Together website to get in touch.