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The Joy of the Lord

Aug 17, 2007
No one could have been more amazed than this devout atheist when I was first in AA and discovered through the exercises discussed in the book Getting to Know God, that there was a God, a good God, a loving God, even a joyful God. As an atheist, as I looked at the
world, I thought God could be any variety of attributes, none of them good. With desperate circumstances so prevalent like poverty, famine, man's cruelty to man, I could only think that God, if he were, was psychotic or sadistic, certainly not a God, if he were which he wasn't, that I would be interested in getting to know.

The ideas of God's attributes of "righteousness" and "holiness" seemed to me to carry the connotations of "self-righteousness," arrogance and "holier-than-thou" elitist pretension which would exclude me from the heavenly ranks forever, if there were a God which there

The very first exercise my sponsor in AA gave me to get in touch with the God of the universe was to remember joyous occasions, to meditate on joy, to think of the Lord as bringing those joyous events, every one I could remember. I thought the exercise rather silly, but I did it, at first, just to appease my sponsor so that she wouldn't leave me and so that I could learn the program of AA. In no way did I think I would come to know the God of the universe since he didn't exist.

As I began to remember joyous occasions from my past times of walking hand in hand with my father, looking at stars, talking about them (he knew so many stories about the stars and how sailors and travelers of old had plotted their courses by them); playing outdoors in
summer with good friends; seeing movies every Saturday morning like Lady and the Tramp, Hopalong Cassidy, and films about aliens (all of them scared me to death in a very joyous way. Make sense out of that), I began to feel a great sense of inner joy. Could this be God? Could it?

Every day, in that initial AA period I began to feel that joy, that inner joy, sometimes all day. Sometimes even for a week at a time I began walking around with a silly smile on my face, the type I had always criticized on other people as being fake and too sweet. I began to know that it was clearly supernatural joy, just the most incredible inner bliss and now, I know, almost a sense of anointing with the Lord's oil of joy.

I have since come to realize that our Lord is a joyous God who prizes us, his disciples as that joy, his joy. In Isaiah 35:10, the Lord talks about the ransomed of the Lord (that's us, his disciples) crowned with everlasting joy.

and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Imagine that, we are the Lord's joy, and he is ours. The way I see it is that the joy of the Lord within us tells us many things, but one of them is certainly that his everlasting and abiding love, or joy would not be the gift if he weren't an incredibly great and generous God. You don't try to bring happiness to those you hate, unless, of course, you are a very mature Christian. Let's examine this passage from John 15 to see what we can learn about joy.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be
complete. . . ." John 15:9 11

Another heavenly aspect of joy is that it is not momentary, a fleeting random chance meeting of spirit and mind. Joy is a continual gift of abiding in our Lord, remaining in his love. The outcome, the eternal consequences of believing in Jesus--of relying on the
word of God, the Bible, the inner urgings of our Holy Spirit, the obedience to Jesus commands and that word, the reliance on him for our provision, are that we may always partake of the banquet of joy.

A third facet of God's joy is that he doesn't just desire us to have his joy. He does not just wish us well and hope that we will be happy. It is his will for us that we be joyous, that his joy be in us and therefore our joy complete. Imagine that! God's perfect will is that we partake of his joy in perpetuity. Last, but certainly not least, God wishes our joy to grow, to become fuller and fuller.

Sometimes I almost feel I can't contain the supernatural joy I experience right now here on earth. I can't imagine how in the world it could get any bigger, but, ok Lord, if you insist, if this is one of the gifts both in heaven and earth alright, already, I'll take it. Bring my joy to completion!
About the Author
Diana Burg is an author with several books. She writes novels, short stories, plays, screenplays and poetry. Her passion is writing.

Mourning Glory, A Devotional for Grieving is a book for those struggling through a loss and looking for support and comfort. http://www.amourningdevotional.com
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