Where Do You Find Joy?

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Joy can be an elusive commodity. I often wish it were available at my corner convenience store. (In fact I saw a convenience store in China named Easy Joy. You can read about it here.) Because I am searching for joy I have been diving into God’s Word to find out what God had to say on the subject.

One thing I learned is that:

Joy is found in God’s presence.

Psalms 16:11 says:

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. ( NIV 1986)

God fills me with joy in His presence. There’s no doubt about it. When I am turned toward God, looking at Him, I feel joy. When I am facing my problems, I feel anxiety, disappointment, and doubt.

Where do you feel closest to God?

For me, one of the places I feel closest to my Creator is when I am in nature. Places like the Shawneee National Forest in the picture above make me realize that God is so much bigger, so much more original, so much more amazing than my mind can comprehend. Looking at what He has made helps me to see Him.

But I live in a city and it requires time and effort for me to get out into nature. I admit–I don’t make that effort very often.

God tapped me on the shoulder and asked:

Wouldn’t it make sense to go often where you feel closest to me?

Whether it is in a brick and mortar church or a forest cathedral, shouldn’t we yearn to go where God seems near? Whether it’s sitting in a quiet room listening to music or skiing down a snowy mountain, shouldn’t we make the effort to go where we can almost touch Him?

Even though it’s February, even though it’s cold. I’m going to go outside and worship. I’m going where I sense God is near.

Question: Where do you feel closest to God?

5 Ways to Spend Time Alone with God

You don't have be a super-spiritual type to spend time alone with God. Here are five ways to experience solitude.

Last week I went to a park all by myself with the precise purpose of being alone with God.

Now I wasn’t completely alone. Runners passed by on the gravel path. Bikes whizzed past. Maintenance men mowed the lawn.

There was even one pesky horsefly that kept trying to take up residence in my hair.

But as I sat in the shade under some big, leafy trees there was no one there who expected me to talk to them. There were no phones to answer. It was just me and God.

In my last post, I talked about our need to be alone with God in order to hear the Divine Whisperer. And some of you might have thought that time alone with God seemed like it was only for super-spiritual types. After all, what would you do during this solitary time?

I know some of you were thinking that, because that was my first reaction. Thankfully there are some excellent books written on this subject. I gleaned and adapted five ideas to share with you.

1. Practice “palms down, palms up” prayer. Place your palms down on your lap and spill out all your concerns, worries, doubts, and fears to God. Let them fall out of your hands. Then turn your palms up, waiting to receive from God. Listen for His words of encouragement, love, and grace.

2. Take a walk. Use the time to meditate on Scripture (print up a verse or two to carry with you). Or with each step thank God for His many blessings.

3. View nature. Sit where you have a view of God’s creation. If it’s a nice day, you could go to a park like I did. If the weather doesn’t allow this, sit at a window with a view of nature. Consider the gift of God’s beautiful world. Thank Him for His display of might and creativity.

4. Read and contemplate a psalm. What is God saying to you in the words? Try Psalm 16, 19, or 62.

5. Journal. If you’re like me, writing down your thoughts helps to untangle them. Write down your concerns, asking God to reveal His perspective. Ask yourself questions like: Where have I seen God acting in my life lately? and When have I felt empty? Read a favorite passage of Scripture and write down how the Holy Spirit is making it personal to your life.

Take time to be alone to hear the Divine Whisperer.

Here are some of the helpful books I have read lately:

The Spiritual Discipline Handbook, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival, by Kelli Trujillo

Spiritual Disciplines Companion, by Jan Johnson

Question: Do you have a favorite activity you use to connect with God?

How to Repair Your Soul

HowToRepairYourSoul

My daughter and her family live in China. They have been studying the difficult Mandarin language for almost three years and are quite fluent now. Which amazes me because when we visit them I am astounded at how anyone could learn such a beautiful, yet complex, language.

Recently I was reading about the phrase ling xiu. In Chinese characters the phrase looks like this:

 

灵修

 

and together they mean a Christian’s devotional time. I found it interesting that the two characters have different meanings when they are used separately. Ling means “spirit” or “soul.” Xiu means “to repair.” So fitting don’t you think? Our devotional time with God is our spirit repair time!

 

quiet time

Spirit repair.

How desperately I need this every day. The world shreds my soul. Stress tears at the seams. Worry tries to rip my heart apart. And when I try to mend it on my own, the rips just become bigger.

But when I sit in God’s presence and let His Word stitch me back up again, I feel whole. When His Spirit mends the holes my soul is once again intact.

Sometimes we think of our devotional time as duty or a dusty routine. But what if we saw it as our spirit repair time?

The new year is a time of new beginnings.

Take time to practice ling xiu or spirit repair time every day. God is waiting to heal your heart.

 

Question: How do you daily practice “spirit repair”?