Summary: We have the right to pursue happiness. However, we soon discover that happiness is fleeting. Joy is better, but how do you find, obtain and keep it?
Joyride - Pt. 1 – Running on E
Life is a series of ups and a series of downs. Cycles that loop. Turns and shifts that sling us in a different direction than we anticipated. Our life often feels much like an amusement ride! And not the kiddy ones. The white knuckle, scream your lungs out, close your eyes and hold on for dear life kind of ride! The wisest man in Ecclesiastes forewarned us in his examination of life that it was going to be a wild ride of tears and laughter, birth and death, killing and healing . . . a total of 29 mutually opposed seasons that jerk us and clank us through the ride of life. High highs and low lows. And most of us, most of the time just wished things could level out! We wish for this because our joy level is so often tied to the direction of our life. When we are up our joy level is high. When we are down there is no joy to be found. Even though in children's church we sang that we had the joy, joy, joy down in our heart to stay we live an almost Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde experience. It is into this wild ride that Jesus walks onto the scene and in one statement reveals that He can level things out. We love this statement but often fail to really dig into the means to obtain what Jesus is offering. So we continue to hear the promise and yet continue to run on E.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Jesus comes along and offers us a joy ride. We fixate on His statement that He can make our joy complete. Make our joy full. Make our joy mature. We set around and wait for Him to accomplish this in our life as we continue to experience the harrowing corners and cliff like drop offs. We think He has shortchanged us or is unable to fulfill His promises. However, the issue is that we grab onto the promise of complete joy and never stop to read the first part of that statement. It is essential to stop and read that because in that moment it is revealed that He told us some things on purpose that determine whether or not our joy can be complete.
So, let's back up and hear what He says determines our joy level.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples. “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
Our joy level is based on whether or not we will embrace the prerequisites of having joy!
1. We must be pruned!
Are we willing to embrace and appreciate pruning?
Jesus makes it clear that our Father in our best interest will make cuts out of our lives. In other words, He will remove things. Most of us are unwilling to accept cuts. We have joy until God removes things. As long as He is adding things we are smiling and dancing through life. However, it is when He cuts things off that we like but that He has determined is stunting our growth that most of us become angry, despondent, depressed and even tempted to walk out of the vineyard altogether.