Last month, my sister Taryn sent me to this blog, encouraging me to participate in her “31 Days” blogging series. My sister Alisa joined in with a rockstar series on our identity in Christ. I missed the boat. October passed; enter November where a new series of Thankful began to fill my facebook newsfeed. Another boat I missed.
I have this problem that I think every new thing must start on a Monday. Or the 1st. Or whatever. A new beginning needs that. A real, legit beginning.
However, if I keep waiting for a beginning, I’m never going to start anything. So my 31 days aren’t tied to a particular month, but rather to a topic that needs some exploring in this house and this heart.
Jordan and I had a wonderful weekend away this past week, and we spent lots of time talking about our marriage and our family and thinking about what kind of culture we want to create in our home. And we both confessed our tendencies toward pessimism and all-around grumpiness, while also both expressing our desires that our home would be one characterized by joy. We want our children to know that Jesus lives inside of us not simply because we tell them so, but because He oozes out of us – because His love and grace mark our every word and action, because the overflow of our hearts is an unending gratitude for all that He has done in us and for us. And I think this most distinctly reveals itself in expressed, steadfast joy.
A definition is probably in order, because when I say “joy,” I most certainly do not mean “happiness.” Happiness is so often attached to circumstances. But joy endures painful circumstances. Joy can be maintained in the midst of grief – in the midst of suffering and pain. Joy that is a fruit of the Spirit in our lives has nothing to do with what life looks like at this very (fleeting) moment but rather has everything to do with the unchanging character of God. And because of that, I think choosing to be joyful is choosing to be obedient. It’s choosing to lift our eyes beyond our circumstances to behold the face of Christ. And it’s something I fail at quite often.
I’ve decided to intentionally spend 31 days exploring this idea of choosing to be joyful. Not because 31 days are magic, but rather because they’re catchy and achievable. 🙂 But my prayer for this time is that my heart would be transformed by the truth of Scripture, and my family would be pointed to Christ as I simply enjoy Him through the mundane of daily life.
So. To begin. A family favorite.
Day 1: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
One of our very first “family times” as the Dahls began with this passage, which Jordan led us in memorizing as a family. (“Ceasing” is probably one of the best words to hear a little lisping 3-year-old say, by the way.)
So often I have asked (and hear people ask), “What is God’s will for my life??” We are searching for some crystal-clear road map, terrified of making the wrong choice. But I don’t think God leaves it so mysterious. He doesn’t expect us to find His magical will and punish us if we’ve taken a wrong turn. He has made His will crystal clear in Scripture. And 1 Thessalonians spells it out. 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” Pretty simple. God’s will? Be holy. Only not so simple, of course. Which is why, later, Paul points to God’s work in sanctifying us and reassures: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (5:24).
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It is God’s will that I would rejoice always. Not just sometimes. All times.
According to so many of Paul’s letters, joy is a basic mark of being a Christian. It is a fruit of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in our lives. And it comes from knowing that we have been chosen for redemption in Christ; that we have a glorious inheritance with the saints; that we have been called to a great hope (Ephesians 1).
But it must not just happen on its own because Paul is reminding us – commanding us – rejoice always!
And I think it comes from living out the rest of the statement: As we pray without ceasing, we enjoy constant communion with our Father and remember we are dependent upon His strength for every moment throughout the day. As we give thanks in all circumstances, we we live in a constant state of gratitude – celebrating God’s many blessings – tangible and spiritual. So we rejoice always!
That is my prayer for today and every day. That as God works in me, changing me to be more like His Son, I would choose to obey in faith and rejoice always.
He who called me is faithful; He will surely do it.