Thursday, May 8, 2014

What joy?

"who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross"

What could have motivated Jesus to endure the shame and the pain of the cross? Was it that through this act he was reconciling everything in heaven and earth and bringing them back into proper relationship with their Creator? Did he see families like mine experiencing healing? Did he envision a new earth where righteousness reigned, without poverty, disease and death? Did he think about the lion and lamb? Was it the prospect of finally being able to return to the right hand of God the Father from whence he had come? What exactly was this joy?

Maybe it was all of the above, but what knocks me flat, rings my bell, what really gobsmacks me is the word "JOY". Jesus did what he did, including enduring the shame of the cross, especially enduring the shame of cross - for joy.

What motivates me? When the alarm goes off, when I know the day ahead will be tough, when it is non-stop rain and grey skies - why do I do what I do?

I know the gospel is "joy to the world", but I never thought of it as "joy to Jesus". Someone has said that we are all narcissists, that we do what we do - for ourselves and that we can not ever say we are truly devoid of self-interest. Was it in Jesus' self interest to redeem the world? And if so, so what? Because I receive a benefit from helping others does NOT make that a selfish act. It seems that God has designed the universe in such a way that "self-less" acts have beneficial consequences that extend also to the self-less one. The rubber band of my brain is starting to reach it's breaking point here, so I'll stop with the philosophy.

What I wanted to focus on was my motivation. It's been a hard 2 years for me and my family. For much of the time we gritted our teeth and pushed forward. I rarely thought about joy. I kept going because it was the right thing to do, and I hoped, I trusted things would get better, but it wasn't joy that kept me going. What would it take, what paradigm shift would I have had to undergo to say "I'm looking forward to JOY"? I don't know the answer. In a little while I'm going to head off to the office and face a myriad of challenges. Lord, please help me to see beyond the challenges to the joy that is awaiting me, that you have prepared for me.

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