Joy is God’s gift, but we must also determinedly take possession of it. These two sides of the joy equation are equal in importance.
Another excerpt from one of Mason’s meditations on joy in Champagne for the Soul. How I love Mason’s writing. It stays with me sometimes for days, echoing in my thinking as I process its implications. In fact as I reflect on the last couple of months during which I have been reading these meditations (slowly, which is a serious achievement for me!), I realise how formative this book has been.
September was easy for joy somehow. I don’t know why but in that first month joy had a habit of creeping up on me unawares. I couldn’t tell you why I felt so full of happiness but I did, quite a lot of the time. I was busy, I had stresses, but yet somehow joy was no effort at all.
October and November, however, have had a different flavour. Joy has been more of a fight, a decision, a habit if you like. Maybe it’s the shorter days, the encroaching darkness of both morning and evening which tends to make many of us feel a bit vulnerable and on edge. Or maybe it’s the change of pace in my life from busy to frantic.
Who knows what it is, but in its way I think that the last month or so has brought me an opportunity. You see, when Mason writes about his own ninety day journey towards joy, he also notes the difficulties of that second month. The month when joy becomes less of a feeling and more of a fight, less of an entitlement and more of an effort. ‘Joy’, writes Mason, ‘is integrally linked to struggle. Joy doesn’t come from standing still but from making progress against opposition’.
And so October, for me, was about learning to fight for joy, to make ‘progress against opposition’ and, in the words of one of my recent quotations from Mason, to ‘press further on’ along the narrow road of the mystery of who I am becoming in Christ.
So, where are you at with joy? Are you experiencing joy as pure gift of God, revelling in its simplicity and unexpectedness? And if not, are you still fighting for it or have you quietly given up?