Summary: Christ invites us to have joy
- I want to share a bit of my journey this morning with regards to joy (or quite often its lack)
- Things good in life. Great family, good career.
- I excelled at work and church.
- Kids healthy, making lots of money, going up the ladder. Moving around and being promoted. Making friends.
- Only depressing time as a couple of short periods where I was struggling with the idea of moving to a new company.
- Then I became a pastor.
- I followed God's call on my life.
- It was the end of a process that had begun over 10 years earlier.
- And it started great. Had fun with being children's pastor. Used all my energy to build programs, do events, get people in place to serve.
- But even then, my life was beginning to change more than I thought.
- Two years later I moved into the role I am now of leadership and teaching. I thought I would now be able to really make a difference.
- But the more I tried, things did not seem to work out the way I envisioned.
- Work was tough. Attendance was down. Offerings were down. I found out first hand that people don't respond how you want them to. People accused me of being unbiblical. Of poor leadership. They sent nasty notes on the way out the door.
- Home was tough. Not because of anything bad, but my son and daughter moved past high school, into college and ultimately into marriage. Vacations were different. I did not see them as much. I had less income.
- Our together family was changing. I found myself working more and longer.
- I had always considered myself a positive, upbeat person and I found that I was down more than I was up. I was stressed more than I had ever been. I went on blood pressure medication for the first time in my life.
- I remember it coming to a head when after a particularly troubling letter from someone who left the church that I just gave up and curled up on my bed in the middle of the day. Couldn't think. Did not want to pray.
- I was good at sales so I could do what I needed to. I could act. But my wife could tell. My friends could tell.
- If they would characterize my life, it would not have been with the word, "joyful."
- I had a problem. My own life and experience did not match my faith, what I said I believed or what I saw when I read my bible.
- I would read my bible and see things like:
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)
- My burden all to often felt heavy.
- Or how about this one.
"The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble." (Proverbs 19:23)
- Wow. Not even close by a long shot. And when I would read about Jesus, it did not help.
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11)
- And there were so many more verses than just these.
- And so a couple of years ago, I began to really search this idea of joy out.
- I do not want to just endure this life. I do not want to spent my next decades trying to get through the 48 weeks of the year that are terrible to have a couple of highlights.