We Americans talk so much about happiness, but happiness is a just short-lived positive reaction to meeting our goals or buying the next thing on our list or getting someone’s approval. Happiness is really about what our ego- and culture- dominated lives desire. It has only to do with superficial goals and the surface of our lives. Joy, on the other hand, is something that taps into the deepest parts of who we are; it reinforces our deepest longings; it crops up when we express the natural talents and interests in each of us; and it comes often in the presence of our Creator God. Joy goes way deeper than happiness ever will. And when we experience joy, we are fulfilled. Joy echoes our fulfillment when we are doing the things that matter the most to the whole person that we are, to the way we were created to be.
We can experience joy in the present moment mostly. When we bring all of who we are to anything, to creation, to another person, as well as to God, we can experience joy. Being present means that our hearts, souls, bodies and minds are all given over to whatever is happening right now. We have given up our goals and expectations, and can be open to whatever is happening right now. We have given up our mind’s preferences, our judgments, our objections to what is happening, ourselves, really, to just being. This is not easy for us humans, because we are so involved in what we want, in what we can accomplish, or in what we have to have happen, that we are seldom really present.
We are focused on what we want right now, until we can give up all of ourselves and just live in the present moment. Often, we see the world around us, but when do we really absorb the beauty and the creativity and the echoes, even, of our own human existence by being captivated by the scenery, the animals and plants before us? When are we captivated by awe? When are we so focused on the person(s) we are with that we are caught up in their lives and not our own? When are we so open to God that we can hear the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God? When are we so sure of the direction He wants us to go in, that we trust Him to lead us in everything we do, in every aspect of our lives. When do we really make Him the pilot of our lives, instead of assuming that He wants what we want for ourselves?
God is inviting us into joy, as well as peace, patience and all the rest of the fruit of the Spirit. And how are we answering Him? Do we hear and obey the voice of His Indwelling Spirit? Does our belief in God lead us to an unqualified “Yes!” to all that He asks of us? For He would lead us to the fulfillment of our lives, to joy and peace and love above all, to care for others, and to a total dedication of our lives to God.
Here is how David R. Hawkins, M.D. Ph.D., describes joy in his book, Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior:
“The world one sees is illuminated by the exquisite beauty and perfection of creation. Everything happens effortlessly, by synchronicity, and the world and everything in it is seen to be an expression of love and divinity. Individual will merges into divine will. A Presence is felt whose power facilitates phenomena outside conventional expectations of reality, termed miraculous by the ordinary observer…There is a desire to use one’s state of consciousness for the benefit of life itself rather than for particular individuals. The capacity to love many people simultaneously is accompanied by the discovery that the more one loves, the more one can love.”
Joy is the expression of love in our lives—love for God, love for ourselves, and love for our neighbors, our fellow human beings. And when we live in joy, we are answering God at the deepest level of ourselves. Oh, the peace and love and gratitude that joy will bring us! Oh, my God!
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I experience any joy in my life? What evokes joy in me? If I don’t experience joy at all, then what is standing in my way? Am I too attached to the culture? Or to other people’s definition of happiness? What am I attached to that keeps me from the joy that God is offering me?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who live in joy, in total connectedness with our deeper selves and with God. May we live our lives as God designed us to live.
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 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ezekiel 36:27, Isaiah 63:11, 2 Timothy 1:14 and more
 Galatians 5:22-23
 David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, (Carlsbad, California: Hay House, Inc., 2002,) pp. 91-92