Friday, November 5, 2010

Conquering Joy (November's DIB Article)

For the past few years when Christmas ends and the new year is just around the corner, I have made it a point to sit down with God and ask Him to reveal His focus for me for the coming year. This January, instead of filling my heart with a list of things to accomplish, which speaks directly into my passion for To-Do’s, He changed things up and gave me just four words and a scripture:


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13

As the year has unfolded, God has been faithful to reveal to me the reasons for each chosen word; and I have been careful to record these bits of revelation so that when 2010 comes to an end, I will be able to look back and see God’s fingerprints all over this year.

Near the end of June, as I was consolidating various online blogs into one, clean, organized blog, a random title popped into my head. Mind you, I wasn’t looking to change the name of my blog, but apparently God had a different plan. “Conquering Joy” are the two words that took hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. So as soon as my new blog was all put together, I sat down and wrote about it:

“At first I thought Conquering Joy was kind of an oxy-moronic title. Did the words really go together? But then I looked up the word conquer and this is what I found:

Conquer: to take possession of by force or authority; to overcome by conquest.

I liked the whole thought of taking possession of joy by authority. JOY is a fruit of the Spirit, but it is also a feeling. I have to choose to live in it, just as I would choose to be content...or not. Yes, the Holy Spirit deposits joy in my life, but He'll never force-feed it to me.

And then I had this thought: God knows that taking possession of joy in every situation in my life has the potential to bring about unspeakable change. Conquering JOY is necessary in moving forward to PEACE. HOPE. & GLORY!”

One morning a couple weeks ago, after a “discussion” with my husband the prior evening, I woke up feeling discouraged, angry and discontent. I was not in a good place and the day ahead of me looked bleak (because of my emotional state). A couple hours into my morning Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks. Instead of having this hearing experience, I had a thought download. I was to retreat to my closet and not come out until my soul had surrendered. What did that even mean?

Psalm 62 was also a part of this thought download; so I looked it up and verse 5 jumped off the page:

“My soul, wait only upon God and silently submit to Him;
for my hope and expectation are from Him.”

Grabbing my iPod and Bible, I retreated to my closet. Once inside, I just knew that I was supposed to play this new worship song I had found and put it on repeat. The chorus of the song has this line in it:

“I will sing from the overflow of love in my heart.”

During the first run-through I remember thinking, “How am I supposed to sing from the overflow of love in my heart when I’m bitter about last night? Clearly my heart’s not even half-full today. And on my best day, God, I still don’t know that there’s any overflow. I mean, you know the things I struggle with. How can a heart overflow with love when sin still resides?” I heard no response.

After five times through the song I asked, “What exactly is supposed to be happening, God?” No answer. The sixth and seventh time around? Still nothing. Then it happened. The reason for my retreat began to unravel.

In the midst of singing the chorus – for the 8th time – the presence of God consumed the oxygen to the point where I felt like I was breathing in the Holy Spirit instead of air. It was that thick; like the heaviness of humidity before a storm rolls in. In an instant, the song I had simply been singing became worship; the lyrics transformed from words into praise. And more knowing was poured out.

“The overflow you question comes from Jesus alone. That capacity for love that you don’t possess on your best day in the flesh is waiting to be poured into you in His presence.”

I was overwhelmed. Tears ran down my face. And the knowing continued.

Before I walked into my closet I didn’t understand the assignment of “not coming out until my soul had surrendered”, but I obeyed what I knew I was asked to do … I played that worship song over and over and over again.

What I learned is that if I will take the time and make my soul wait on God alone, then His presence that comes in patient waiting will change my perspective. The fleshly emotions that dominated my heart and thoughts will be consumed by the overwhelming love that accompanies the presence of Jesus, because in the presence of that kind of joy-producing love, no heart can hold onto selfish motives.

In Psalm 16 – my favorite Psalm – David writes: “I experience absolute joy in Your presence.” (vs. 11)

In Acts 2:28 this verse is referenced and written this way: “You will enrapture me - diffusing my soul with joy - with and in Your presence."

Conquering Joy was fully realized in my closet that morning. When I wrote out my thoughts back in June, I was focused on the action of choice alone. I believed that all I had to do was choose joy in order to conquer my circumstances. It sounded good then, but now I understand that my thought was incomplete.

God showed me that what I choose is critical to joy being conquered. I don’t just decide to be joyful and “voila” all my nasty emotions are gone and I’m tiptoeing through the tulips of life. I must choose for “my soul to wait only upon God and silently submit to Him” (Psalm 62:5), so that “He can enrapture me – diffusing my soul with joy – with and in His presence.” (Acts 2:28) And by “filling me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him, I will overflow with hope (and love) by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

That morning discontent, anger and discouragement were conquered by love and replaced with joy. On any given day our circumstances have the opportunity to leave us burdened with a range of joy-stealing emotions: from bitterness and envy to jealousy and greed; from insecurity and helplessness to pride, fear and loneliness. But God has given us a path to daily freedom. Choice is a powerful tool in our spiritual arsenal; one that has the capacity to change our perspective day in and day out, moment by moment … if we will just make a choice to surrender our souls to Him and wait on His presence.

“Jesus, I pray the truth of who you are and the powerful love that your presence brings will be made to known to each reader today. That surrender becomes a sweet word on our lips and an easy act of our souls as we continuously discover how to conquer joy through your authority.”

1 comment:

  1. The comments below touched my heart so much because they glorified God's message and the work He is doing through writing. I just get the gift of being the one He writes through. :)

    Thank you for such a beautiful story! Your revelation of surrendering our souls and waiting for the Lord to come speaks deep into my heart! I have just recently moved to the DFW area and came across this site, the first article I read was one of yours titled "I Am Making Everything New"! Since reading that post I have come to deeply connect with your writings and feel very blessed that I get to learn bits of your life and how the Lord reveals himself in those moments. I really relate to pieces of your story and testimony. Thank you, thank you for sharing your stories. God uses them, for myself, in inspiring and comforting ways! ~ Steffani

    I love this! It flows so deeply, and into so many areas that you could take 5 other teachings from it! I will make a copy of this (if I am able to) to share with the young women in my Saturday morning Walking In Victory class. I will also share it with my Apple of Gold classes. This so blessed my heart and will be life-changing for so many of us. Thank you for sharing your intimate moments with the Lord :-) I shared a Word with a lady one day, "Be still and know that I am God". She came up to me afterwards and asked me "What does that mean exactly?" This is a beautiful testimony of the answer to her question. I LOVE these kind of questions, because they are life-changing for those humble enough to ask them! This was such Holy Spirit led revelation, what a blessing for all who reads it. ~ Nancy

    WOW!! I LOVE this!! What a POWERFUL testimony! This is Soooo the heart of God!! I feel that HE wants a proclamation here goes: In the name of Jesus and by the POWER of the Holy Spirit and THIS testimony, we, the readers of this article, ARE CONQUERers of JOY!! Our feet are on the JOY path and we will continue to choose JOY in all circumstances!! We are MORE than conquerers through Christ Jesus our Lord!! WOOHOO!! Thank you SO much for sharing YOUR victory, so that it can become OURS as well!! ~ Lisa