Sometimes, my mom used to wake me up in the morning for school by barging into my room singing, “Today is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it!” over and over and OVER again. It used to drive me crazy.
I never woke up rejoicing, that’s for dang sure.
I mean, if we’re being honest, how many of us really wake up each morning praising God for who He is, and setting our hearts on what is true? I never, and I mean NEVER, used to wake up like that. That is, until the past month or so.
But let me give a little backstory here.
Truth be told, I am not a naturally positive person all the time. I can be cynical and have a bad attitude. I am typically very quick to complain. It is something I have been aware of for my whole life (because my parents were always quick to give me a pop on the mouth or take my phone away because of my attitude growing up… trust me).
But it was only until the past couple months when I began to take the idea of CHOOSING JOY seriously.
You see, a lot of my life I spent being discontent about this that or the other. Don’t get me wrong, I have been happy and have always loved the life I’ve been given, but I also have frequently let my attitude or negativity diminish some of the good.
Being a Type A control freak, I have lived my entire life with my hands clenched, choking the idols or securities or people I had, asserting my control over them.
But something really changes when you have your fingers broken and you are ultimately FORCED to let something, or someone, go. You find the sweetest freedom to ever be felt.
Despite my claims to be “surrendered” to God and His plan for me, my broken and worn out fingers certainly attest against that statement. It’s easy to sing lyrics like, “I surrender all” and “Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it” in church, but it’s another thing to live your life in belief of those words.
Praise the Lord I don’t still feel the need to clench my fists anymore.
This past month, Jesus has ravished my heart and taken over my whole life. He has given me the sweetest of freedoms by being faithful to soften my heart and remove things in my life hindering me from being fully surrendered to Him.
And, for the first time in my life, I find so much peace and contentment living my life with my hands completely open.
One of my good friends Amanda told me this analogy the other day about sheep and shepherds. When a sheep falls away from the flock and the shepherd finds it, he breaks its legs and carries it home. In that time, the shepherd teaches the sheep to hear and understand his voice. The shepherd continues to nurture and help the sheep heal as long as it takes. And after that, the sheep knows his shepherd much more deeply, because he knows his voice.
In actuality, I have no clue if this analogy is true or not about sheep and shepherds, but it really struck me.
This semester has rocked my freakin’ world.
When my good shepherd took control away from me, He committed the time to remind me who I am, and who He is. He swept me off my feet and has spent the last couple months affirming me and speaking my identity over my life. He has taught me to hear his voice in a whole new way.
He has also given me to most blissful freedom to choose joy.
Psalm 40: 2-3 says that, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
Those verses couldn’t reign more true in my life right now.
Ironically, the pain of loss or the devastation of losing control has brought me to a place of ultimate joy. Seems counterintuitive, right? Absolutely. It doesn’t even make full sense to me.
But the deeper I grow in relationship with my heavenly Father, the easier I find it to surrender all control to Him, the author and creator of all things. As I learn to run to Jesus as fast as my healing legs carry me, the more freedom I experience.
I am able to choose joy fully when I am most surrendered to Him; finding my freedom and contentment in the promises and identity that He is faithful to speak over me.
Choosing joy each morning has radically changed my life. He has filled me up more than I’ve ever experienced, and graciously allowed me to taste the sweetest freedom of being surrendered to Him.
Although I wish I would’ve understood the freedom in choosing joy sooner, God knew what’s best for me. He loves me and reminds me each day. He will never forsake his servant. He promises to uphold my hand and build my foundation on the word of His promises.
In a time in my life that should typically be filled with much sorrow and pain, the Lord has given me more joy than I have ever felt. He has turned my weeping into singing, my sorrow to dancing.
He has given me more joy than when grain and wine abound (Psalm 4), and I know it will never fade away.