Joy to Your World

I know what I’ll be doing in 2017. A dear friend gave me a 1000 piece 20 X 26 inch puzzle of the Chicago Cub championship and historical icons. Balls, bats, pennants—no photos. To this point in life, my puzzle challenge has been limited to seven pieces—you know the 3/8 inch thick pieces. What if I can’t do this? Where am I going to put it during the process?

John Eldredge talked on his podcast today about preparing for Christmas with an emphasis on survival. I’ve heard the phrase many times, but it really struck me this morning: “You’ve got to fight for the joy.” What does joy look like and feel like to you? It feels to me like it is larger than fun or laughter, but include those things.

Writer Jeff Goins asked in his blog if Saturday Nite Live is funny anymore. I saw the spot he was talking about—my answer was “Not even close.” So, joy has to be more than silly, clever or sarcastic. But what?

Many of my friends are really busy in this season. They must “fight” for a few minutes beyond preparing for the family gatherings or worship events or seasonal work. For many of us those things are not where the battle is. We just have organized our calendars, seasons, thinking, meditating around wounds and memories that should have traveled the sewer lines long along. Why is it so difficult to flush that?

What kills or maims your joy? I don’t have an adequate answer or explanation. Christmas joy becomes a spiritual warfare battleground. I have four couples within my care zone who are dividing households this Christmas. Some are negotiating who gets the kid(s) for Christmas day. I go into a deep dark hole just thinking about the kids. I have to go to serious spiritual war to keep Christmas from representing everything but “good news of great joy.” Some of the battle armaments:

  • An excessive amount of my favorite music.
  • Emphasis on blessing rather than intercession.
  • Praise–Who Jesus is
  • Releasing the situations that hurt me and those who wrote on my “permanent record” less than kind, true things.
  • No cursing. I will—at least for the season—ask God to bless.
  • Spend as much time as possible with people I like to listen to and to hug.
  • Hold my wife’s hand and thank her. She’s such a fine lady.

Tying my shoe lace this morning, I discovered I had a rock in my shoe. Where did that come from? My first hope was that it was in my shoe and not my sock. Before moving, I had to decide what I was going to do if it was inside my sock. I decided to walk on it all day. That decision lasted three steps.

First I had to wrestle with my knee-length sweat sock which somehow had gotten glued to my longjohns. I successfully got the boulder out and then couldn’t get my sock back inside my long-legged warmers. So I had to take off my jeans, drop my…. You get the idea and probably an image that will ruin your holidays.

Fighting for the joy usually means doing the work to get the rock out your mind, soul or repetitive thinking.

Joy to your world!

© D. Dean Benton   writer—wonderer—wearer of longjohns

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