FROM THE PASTOR'S PORCH: The source of Abundant Joy
I really enjoy going to see a good rodeo. Like everyone else, I enjoy the excitement and the thrill that happens every time one of those cowboys nods his head and that chute flies open; especially during the bull riding!! The bull riding is so exciting because you have the added element of increased danger. Not saying that riding broncs isn't dangerous, but bulls....well, that just takes it to a new and higher level.
I will certainly never forget my own first bull ride at a high school rodeo. It was early spring and a very cold night. You know when it's cold like that and you jump down off of a fence, it sometimes makes your ankles have a sharp pain. I remember that happening to me that night behind the chutes before I rode my bull and thinking, “man, it's sure gonna hurt my feet when I dismount off that bull tonight!!” Well, that was something I didn't really have to worry about that night because about two seconds after I nodded my head, that old bull threw me off right on top of my head!! The force of my head first landing drove my brand new “Hoss Cartwright” cowboy hat completely down over my ears AND my eyes!!! While the crowd was having a good laugh, I was on my knees trying to get that hat up off of my eyes when the thought suddenly came to me, “Where is that BULL??” Thank God for the clowns!!
Getting on a huge animal that weighs around ¾ of a ton or more and many times with a good set of horns and a nasty disposition to boot, usually strikes fear in the heart of the average person, but to the experienced bull riding cowboy it produces a tremendous thrill. Let's apply this analogy to our own lives as Christians. The things we try to avoid and fight against-trouble, suffering, and persecution- are the very things that produce abundant Joy in the life of a Christian. “We are more that conquerors through Him” “IN all of these things”; not in spite of them, but right in the smack dab middle of them!! A Christian doesn't know the the Joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it. Paul said, “I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 7:4)
That radiant look that you see in the eyes a Christian, which is the result of Joy, is not built on anything passing. It is built on the everlasting Love of God that NOTHING can ever change!! And the every day life experiences that we encounter whether boring or terrifying have no power what soever to “separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)
Not matter what you are facing, my prayer for you today is that you will remember that NOTHING can ever separate you from the Love of God and to “fear not” for He “is always with you”. I pray that you will realize that all the troubles and problems of this world are temporary and that true JOY comes only “through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Well....it's time to give life the nod of your head and open the chute of life!! May the JOY of the Lord be your strength, ~Pastor Lynn