Clara (5) and Carynne (3) get to go to school at Daddy's work because our church is also a preschool during the week. Needless to say, the two of them feel quite privileged. Frequently, just about the time I am getting them settled into their classes Scott will come strolling up to hug his girls. While both give a sweet greeting, Rynnie takes it to an entirely different level. She sprints up to Scott, jumps in his arms and hugs him tight in a way that makes him feel completely secure in her love.
Today's reading is Galatians 4. Paul uses the first two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, as an illustration of the difference between trying to reach God from our own effort and allowing God to reach down to us through grace. Ishmael was born of a servant and is a picture of the bondage and futility of striving to please God by being "good". Isaac was born of a promise and demonstrates the wonder completed on the cross and the entirety of Jesus' substitution for our sin. (Verses 21-31).
In the middle of this chapter, a question leaps off the page. "What has happened to all your joy?" (Verse 15) Almost daily some object or possession gets lost in our home. At least we say that it is lost. In reality, it is just misplaced.
- Covered - Sometimes the missing item has slipped up under an article of clothing or bed. It is there but it just can't be seen. The joy of being free through faith in Jesus is not a secret that we should keep hidden. God wants our light to shine from the hilltops, a radiant reflection of His love and grace.
- Ignored - At other times the absent article isn't actually mislaid. It is laying right on a dresser, counter or table in plain sight. We may have even walked by it a dozen times but simply never really saw that it was there. The blessings of salvation, such as joy, can be just like that. They are ours for the taking. We may even be aware that they are available. We just never take the time to notice the difference it would make in our lives if we picked them up and used them.
- Borrowed - The last place the absent is often present is in the possession of another. Perhaps it was loaned or taken with a bit less permission but either way it is located in someone else's room. I have allowed my joy to be taken by others. I permit their judgements, attitudes and injuries towards me to rob my peace. My joy is not rightfully theirs and is it only by an act of my will that I let them steal away with it.
My joy can make off like a bandit more easily than I'd like to admit. Thankfully, Paul tells me how I can keep it. "Because you are (daughters), God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."" (Verse 6) I have to remember who my Daddy is. Carynne never fails to greet Scott and rush into his arms. When I am looking into my Daddy's face, I find joy there. When I am wrapped in my Daddy's arms, I am at rest, totally secure in His love.
Jesus, thank you for this sweet reminder that my joy is not lost and I don't have to allow my joy to be covered, ignored or borrowed. When I am focused on You, Your joy fills my heart. Like a garden hose connected to a fire hydrant, there is more of You than I can even absorb. Today I will stay attached to the source of all joy.