Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The oil of joy for mourning...

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

Chara. Joy. Used at least 60 times in the New Testament. The 2nd *fruit* Paul lists as a fruit of the spirit: love, joy...

C.S. Lewis wrote a whole book about joy: Surprised by Joy. It was a bit of a joke amongst his friends because it was while writing it he met & fell in love with an American woman called, of all things, Joy!

But what is joy & how do I get it? What I have decided it is not is in how the giddy world would define it. It is not to be found in things, or people or places. Money won't buy it but I have found it in grief. It is not simply happiness but it always has elements of a deep & fundamental peace.

In 2006, just before Christmas, my Brother, Mark, was killed in a low level flying accident. My mother rang with the news very early in the morning & for the 2nd time in 2 years we began the process of grieving a husband, father, son, brother. There were tears ~ & plenty of them. Mark was very like my Star: outrageously extroverted, happy~go~lucky, sunny natured, very warm & popular ~ & dead. It is such a stark word & Mark's death was so totally out of left field, unexpected, unbelievable, impossible.

I was asked to speak at Mark's remembrance service, as I had spoken at my father's also. My nearest & dearest are always a little askance on these occasions. They do, after all, know me rather well. I am the one who will howl at the sad bits in sentimental movies ~ & the happy bits. I am prone to bursting into tears just because something is beautiful, or brave, or...well, just because....So you know, relying on me to keep it together when everyone around me is in a highly emotional state is a bit like expecting the PM to walk on water. Not going to happen. Only it does.

It happens because the word most closely associated with chara is charis, grace. It the midst of grief & turmoil grace is extended & joy abounds. I am much better at articulating the intellectual aspects of belief than I am at discussing the personal relationship I have with God. It sounds so mad when you start putting it in to words. It is mad. There is no logic to it. Yet I have experienced it over & over again in my life. I am like a plummeting stone into still water; I come to rest on the bottom & the ripples close over my head.

God is the eye of my storm. He is the depth of my ocean where no wave can break. He is the stars singing in the morning & a pillar of fire by night. He is not my happiness because joy is more than simply happiness. Happiness is fleeting & dependant on fickle circumstance. Joy is unchanging & the circumstances do not alter it. It has elements of hope & trust. So I was able to return from farewelling my brother & keep my appointment to deliver a message to my church family, not because I am particularly brave but because grace abounds & where there is grace there is joy.

To use a Quaker analogy, those who have found the secret of Life glow with the Inner Light. No, they may not sing the loudest, or praise the mightiest, or pray the longest but they radiate with the Spirit & in times of trouble & affliction they hold steady because they believe: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. It is not, as we are so prone to believe, all about us. It is not simplistically just letting go & letting God. It is found in the renewing of our minds, in changing our thinking & lifting our eyes of ourselves to the One who holds the power of life & death in His hands, who is our strength & our refuge, our hope, our joy. Our joy is found in Christ but we have to live it out in our lives.

And I have noticed something else. The less I have of *things* the more I am full of joy. There is a deep pleasure in simplicity. It prevents us becoming jaded by the world & the things of the world. It is more likely to give us an appetite for the things of God rather than worldly pleasures. Surrounding ourselves with what God has made lifts the heart. Surrounding ourselves with what man has made is not good for our souls.

Charis. Chara. Grace & joy. Where one is the other abounds. We need more of it because one thing is for sure, the World wants it & if they think we have it they will come seeking our secret.


Persuaded said...

"Charis. Chara. Grace & joy. Where one is the other abounds. We need more of it because one thing is for sure, the World wants it & if they think we have it they will come seeking our secret."
This is my most fervent prayer for my own life: that others will see something in me, in my life that draws them to Him. And that nothing I do will bring shame or dishonor to Him... that's the really hard part:-/

And you know what? I "howl" at anything even remotely touching or emotional. I sometimes get so choked up that I can't even speak- and usually it's about something like a movie or some youtube video or something equally irrelevant and shallow. Noah has been known to sigh and ask, "Mahhm, are you crying again?"
To which I reply, "no... sniffle sniff. No."
"Oh yes, you are! I can tell."
It's really quite embarrassing. sheesh.

seekingmyLord said...

Joy. Ganeida, I tell you true that I was just thinking about this particular trait of the Spirit. I was thinking just a day ago how it is the one thing that I rarely allow myself to feel. I know it is there for me, within the Holy Spirit residing within me and is the weakest element for me, the one fruit of the Spirit that seems to never ripen for me.

I will accept peace, love, hope, grace, and more, yet I hold joy in far off place that I never least not fully...not if joy were something that can only be fulfilled for me in heaven itself. So wrong thinking, really, for someone who believes the Kingdom is at hand (here and now) and that my eternity has already begun. That heaven is not a brochure vacation spot, but that I am already in the presence of the Lord now. Should I not feel a fantastic and unearthly sense of joy at all times being with the Lord? Yes, I should.

You have cultivated, fertilized, and nourished my thoughts further on this fruit of the Spirit: joy. Thank you.

seekingmyLord said...

This is my most fervent prayer for my own life: that others will see something in me, in my life that draws them to Him. And that nothing I do will bring shame or dishonor to Him... that's the really hard part:-/
Persuaded, this is now my prayer as well.

Amanda said...

I enjoyed your post Ganeida...particularly loved the 2nd last paragraph. Yes and amen!

I felt sad when I read about your brother though :'(

joyfulmum said...

Ganeida, your brother's story is very sad indeed!
I love the scripture " in His presence is fullness of joy"!
you have been so articulate again, I enjoyed reading this post!

LobStar_89 said...

"Surrounding ourselves with what God has made lifts the heart." So true! I love simplicity... Your quiet today, speak with you shortly! Love you :)

LobStar_89 said...

Today's Wednesday, all understood :)

Ganeida said...

Diane: I always knew there was a reason I loved you. Anyone who howls with me at the drop of a hat is a *keeper*. ☺

Seeking: You can't possibly be surprised. Not the way the spiritual wiring is at present.

Amanda: As someone who lives in a partiularly lovely spot I knew you'd *get* it. ☺

Rosemary: My brother is with the Lord & as David said, I will go to him, he cannot return to me.

Liddy: You dork!!!☺ You of all people! And your brother threw a spanner in my works. I drove for hours & hours & hours....& now I am sooo tired!

Jo said...

Do you know that I often am filled with joy, I feel so privileged with my life, even though it has been filled with much sadness it has also been filled with much joy and love. God has been watching over me so much and it makes me very happy. I often look around my garden and feel joy at the wonderful creations God has made for me to enjoy. I am one very fortunate girl.

I once asked my mum why she didn't cry at funerals - and she told me she would see the person again in heaven and no tears were needed - just patiences to wait for that wonderful moment when re-united with loved ones. My wait is to see my sister who died of cot death before I was born. That will be the most glorious moment.

Ruby said...

"The joy of the Lord is my strength."
I'm a blubberer, too but it is beautiful the way the Lord carries us through those very difficult situations and uses them at times for his own purpose and glory.
Seeking: Though we should be full of joy in the Holy Ghost I do not think that means we must be leaping and dancing and clapping all the time. It is sometimes contentment and acceptance. Look at our Saviour who was perfect in all of these fruits. He set his face towards Jerusalem knowing he would be put to death. He was able to say "Thy will be done."

Ruby said...

P.S. Love that photo at the top :-)

Ganeida said...

Jo: me too!

Ruby: I am going to form a Blubbers Incorporated. You, me, Persuaded can be founding members. lol The photo is me & my other brother. Children seem to be able to access joy easier tha adults, don't you think?

Ruby said...

Do you think? Their unburdened hearts are undoubtly "happy". But as you have said that is not necessarily the joy which is the fruit of the Spirit. One can become selfish and delight in evil or trust in the Lord for forgiveness and find that true joy which His spirit gives.

seekingmyLord said...

Oddly, I cry at things when most do not, and little at things where others cry much...I think it is because my mother often fell apart and I was, had to be, her strong crutch, but when I am just being me, without having to be the one who keeps it together, I could easily cry at every little thing.

Here's something I heard long ago:

"God counts the tears of women"

Hassidic Judaism sees women as more spiritually evolved than men and better able to understand the Suffering of the world.

seekingmyLord said...

Ruby, I thank you for your words and I agree that there is joy in contentment--I most definitely get that. I would say that I tend to be one who tries to find contentment in everything--do not always succeed, but definitely try. I try to always look at what God is doing in the situation--easier to see with others than with myself, of course. However, there should be an continual undercurrent of joy within a person who is Spirit-filled. I tend to hold that down to a nearly non-emotional state, perhaps because I so dislike the emotional valleys after the mountain top experience, so I think I can smooth it all out to being flat and even, when in reality I could just be living with God on the mountain top experience daily.

This is so funny really, as I read what I wrote, because I used to live in the flattest part of Ohio and then to flat Florida, and I pray for years that I could live near the mountains with rolling hills and winding roads. That prayer was answered and yet I try to even it all out to a kind of flatness within my Spirit...? Something of a contradiction there, me thinks.

Ganeida, I did again...sorry! On and on I go in your comments section! But I have thought about this some more and I would like to add this. You know that I lost a brother when we were both children. That is when I became a believer. Death is never really welcomed but it has a profound impact in getting people to think past this life. The death of one can save another or many. I see my brother's death as my salvation, I have much for which to thank him when I see him.

Amanda said...

SeekingMyLord, I relate to and understand what you are saying. You explained that so well...

Julie said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. I'm so glad I found your blog through Ember's. You have written about something I, too, have experienced....but not often enough.
I'm sorry about your brother.

I'm thankful for your words, Ganeida.

Ember said...

Amen to all you've said in your post, Ganeida. It was such a lifting of the heart to read it.

Something I have been noticing in recent months is that watching television, almost without exception, fails to build up joy and often destroys it. It keeps people down on a different plane from the one they need to be on to walk in joy.

seekingmyLord said...

Amen to that Ember! We have our TV service turned off right now. There are so many levels to how distracting TV can be to being in the presence of my Lord. We can turn ours off for six months out of the year without losing our grandfathered package, but we have been considering just turning it off for good....

Ganeida said...

Wow, Ladies! You've had a whole conversation while I slept!

Ruby: Hm, I do take your point but a child who knows something of the Spirit just seems to radiate joy. I've known a few like that. Star was like that for a period.By school age it's usually quenched.

Seeking: You know I am happy for you to fill my comments section. ☺ As for Mark, They filled a hanger for his remberance service ~ his death drew many to a place where they could hear the salvation message & what Mark believed that made him who he was.

Julie: I am happy to have you here. Ember's is a real crossroads place.

Ember: I've become very ADD about t.v. lol I literally can't sit still & concentrate long enough to watch an entire show. I don't miss it.

Ruby said...

Yes, children are not encumbered by our worldly cares.
Have a lovely day!

LobStar_89 said...

I second you mummy about children filled with joy!

Bonnie said...

Thank you for this.

Jeanne said...

Thanks for this lovey. I like.

I'm a blubberer three.