Joy and Spontaneity


Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me? Am I full of the little things that cheer His heart over me, or am I whimpering because things are going hardly with me? There is no joy in the soul that has forgotten what God prizes. It is a great thing to think that Jesus Christ has need of me—“Give Me to drink.” How much kindness have I shown Him this past week? Have I been kind to His reputation in my life? {My Utmost for His Highest : January 21}


This paragraph really stirs up all sorts of emotions and thoughts in my mind and heart this morning. It really resonates with many of the things that I have been musing about for several days now. A new thought jumped out at me when I read this that I want to examine more closely.


With the deeper definition of joy as my context, this statement seems to strongly suggest that joy is the birthplace of true love. Joy is something like the bones where the life-giving blood is formed to be transfused all throughout the body by the heart. In fact it seems that joy and love must have a very intimate connection much closer than I have ever considered before.


On the flip side of this, the atmosphere created by the presence of condemnation suffocates true joy. Since joy always involves positive relationship bonding, true joy and love precludes the spirit of condemnation. That is likely why Jesus said that He did not come to condemn the world but to save us. If God is love and love is both produced by joy and increases joy, then the personification of love would never use condemnation, for condemnation stifles both joy and love.


If a child is raised in an atmosphere where condemnation, guilt and fear is used as the primary motivation for 'obedience', then it would logically follow that that child would know very little of the experience of either joy or love. On the other hand, if a person has been raised in an environment rich in joy and love, they will have deep within them a reservoir of resources and have enhanced capacities that are much closer to the design that was originally intended in our creation at the beginning. Such a person will find it much easier to feel compassion and empathy, to respond to the needs of others without criticism or the desire to shame. Their sense of value will be much stronger all of their life because experiencing of joy inherently conveys a sense of worth to a person.


In the context of the above quotation I can see that a proper relationship with God will impart to my heart that connection of joy that can infuse it with value, with love and the peace that goes so far beyond logical explanation. That relationship of joy will also create the spontaneous response of wanting to bless the heart of whoever it is that is bringing me this joy as well as a desire to share it with others. It seems to me that the desire to selflessly inspire joy in another heart is the very essence of true love itself. Thus the circle is completed, the circuit becomes connected and the current of true power can begin to flow and bring abundant life and light into the soul and into the lives of all around.


This passage also conveys a warning about my perspective. This can alert me to how much of heaven's perspective of reality I have in the present by observing the symptoms that are present or missing in my experience with God. It is of no use to try to force myself to bless God's heart – such attempts are nothing but a farce, an insult to love. This is why the very first phrase mentions spontaneity – because true love must be spontaneous or it is simply not real. But trying to have love without the atmosphere of joy is also attempting an impossibility.


That really scares me, that last sentence, even though it really rings with the sense of truth. Just a day or two ago I wrote privately that I sensed an increasing awareness of my own fear of joy. Oh, I deeply crave joy and desperately need much more joy in my life, but at the same time I am often terrified of experiencing very much joy. It is like I have been preconditioned to react in fear whenever someone tries to love me unconditionally, openly and affectionately. Either I resist it too much or I go to the other extreme and lose my balance (whatever that might be). My ability to receive love and to experience strong joy is so limited and dwarfed that I find myself in extreme frustration at my inability to absorb the very thing that I need most in order to thrive and grow and heal.


In addition, when I read Chamber's words I feel convicted that I am very far from being a source of blessing and joy to the heart of God, at least from my present perspective. I hope that He might be receiving joy from seeing things in my life that I cannot yet perceive myself, but I know too that there is an immense chasm of need on my part that needs to be filled up with repairs and new faculties to bring me into closer proximity to the kind of relationship that Chambers describes here.


But I long to have that experience in my own life, not just on a daily basis but in a continuous, unbroken connection of loyalty, love and joyful obedience to God. I don't want to be looking for the least that I have to do, to live at the lowest level possible and still make it to heaven. That sort of thinking has poisoned my relationship to God far too many years and has been the ruin of people who I know even today. So many people insist that real obedience to all of God's requirements is an impossibility and we should depend on Jesus' righteousness to be accepted in place of our obedience to God. That logic has enough truth in it to make it extremely compelling, but at the same time it has enough falsehood in it to make it deadly – like the tiny amount of poison inserted into a sweet drink to mask its potential for harm and make it appealing.


Such a minimalist approach to Christianity will produce a life of obligation, of frustration and a life that has very little joy present which is what is needed to endure times of intense crisis. I have noticed that the preparation that Jesus chose as the most potent stabilizer and fortifier for His mind and heart just before He entered into the traumatic events of His last few hours approaching His death was the experience of joy. That sounds almost bizarre at first, but when the real truth about joy is understood it makes perfect sense. And if Jesus chose joy as the most vital element necessary to prepare Him for His time of crisis, wouldn't it make sense that we would need the very same experience to prepare us for whatever problems and pain is awaiting us in our futures?


Jesus gathered into His heart all the joy that He could find during His last few moments with His disciples and filled His imagination with the promise of the joy they would all experience when they would be reunited along with all who would come to trust in His sacrifice for them together in heaven. Jesus fortified His mind and heart with all the joy He could gather from the present and the future as the main defense that He knew would be needed to endure all that was about to crash on top of Him.


Having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith, who went through the pains of the cross, not caring for the shame, because of the joy which was before him, and who has now taken his place at the right hand of God's seat of power. (Hebrews 12:2 BBE)


Immature religion in the life will cause me to only think about what God can do to improve my life, to make me feel better or look better in the eyes of others. True religion will inspire me to feel spontaneous kindness both toward others and toward God.


How often does the idea of making God's heart get excited ever cross my mind? And even when it might, do I then feel a sense of obligation instead of opportunity? That sense or reaction, the 'color' of my emotions when I first think about that is a strong indicator of the kind of religious life I have deep in the heart no matter what my profession may be. If it is not spontaneous affection then it is very likely that I do not yet have the experience of true joy that only can produce such spontaneity.


Am I as spontaneously kind to God as I used to be, or am I only expecting God to be kind to me? Am I full of the little things that cheer His heart over me, or am I whimpering because things are going hardly with me? There is no joy in the soul that has forgotten what God prizes. It is a great thing to think that Jesus Christ has need of me—“Give Me to drink.” How much kindness have I shown Him this past week? Have I been kind to His reputation in my life?

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