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|My Misery is a Joyful Cover-up
By: Dr. Skip Myers
web posted June 27, 2005
One of the things I miss living in Alabama is snow and cold weather. Growing up I remember each year we would get five or six good snows and several days out of school. For a kid, snow is one of those things that has only one purpose—fun! Mothers have learned that there is an art to getting your child ready to play in the snow. It’s all about layers of clothing. Thermal underwear is followed by jeans and T-shirts, then sweaters and thermal socks, then comes the waterproof pants and inner coat followed by boots, gloves, toboggan, the outer water-resistant “puffy” coat.
Mothers also learn the inevitable lesson that once all these layers have been applied, a child will have to go to the bathroom. It never fails. I think there is something connected physically with a kid’s bladder and the weight of clothes placed on the body. So, layer by layer, the snow equipment is peeled off and then reapplied. The only problem is that the more layers you have on, the more movement is restricted. So all I was able to do out in the snow was to wobble around and eventually fall down.
I am constantly hearing people say they have lost their joy in life. Joy possesses an energy that is necessary for faith to be lived out in our daily lives. What happens is that we do not lose our joy, we simply pile layer after layer of life on top of it until it’s no longer noticeable. Galatians 5:22 tells us that joy is a part of what Christ brings into our lives when we invite Him in. We cannot lose joy or have joy forcibly taken from us because it is a part of Christ in our lives.
The question remains, why do we feel as though joy is taken or lost? The answer is—layers. If you put enough layers on top of something then its shape and its image will eventually be covered. Put enough life-layers on top of the Lord’s joy and its presence will be completely covered and its image lost. We lose the realization that joy is still present because all we can see are the layers covering it.
These life-layers come from a variety of sources. Situational layers are applied when things aren’t going our way. Relational layers cover joy when people disappoint or hurt us. The responsibilities of life add layers as they increase. There are layers we apply from within because of a poor self-image or life failures. Others will add to the layers by weighing us down with unrealistic expectations. Now, each of these may not have the thickness to disguise joy, but put several together and you have a thick coating over one of the most precious aspects of our life with Christ.
How can you determine just how thick the coating is over your joy? Psalm 16:11 is one of the most joy-inspiring verses in all the Bible. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Peeling layers away from joy involves presence. Forcibly take yourself into the presence of the Lord. I don’t mean irreverently or disrespectfully. When you are not experiencing joy, the last place you want to be is in the presence of the Lord. Determine you will present your life before Him in worship and praise. The thicker the layers, the more you will fight this idea and you will experience very little from being in His presence. In other words, if you deliberately do something that should cause you spiritual joy (worship, ministry, growth, praise, personal worship) and it does not, then your layers are impeding your faith. You feel as though joy has been robbed and taken from you.
Listen! The joy is still there. Its image is just covered by layers of life. Start peeling the layers by staying in the Lord’s presence and listen to what He says to you. Reread Psalm 16:11. It assures us that the Lord will make known to us the path of life; not existence. Life as intended by the Lord is not problem free but it is abundant and joyful and meant to be enjoyed. Going into the presence of the Lord enables us to see our life-layers with a new perspective. We are led to peel them back under the direction of One who is larger and thicker than any layer we can imagine.
Rediscover the joy in your life by rediscovering the presence of God in your life. Life-layers will happen. The secret is not letting them get too thick and covering the image of the Lord’s joy in our lives. Make a choice to stay in the Lord’s presence daily and be obedient as He directs you to start peeling. A great place to peel is in His House. I’ll see you Sunday.
Dr. Myers is Pastor of Smiths Station Baptist Church, Smiths Station Alabama and a former Youth Minister of Sweetwater Baptist Church (1981-1986)
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