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But first, this.


Congratulations! By your every intention, you have decided to choose joy. This little series on the topic has enabled you to see that, no matter what is going on in or around you, you can choose to live in joy because joy comes from the heart of God. But somehow breakthrough does not really seem possible--if you're honest. For others? Oh sure, but probably not you. Hmmm. Let's investigate why that might be so.


[if you are just joining us and want to catch the first four in this series,

go to www.pastorwoman.net, "Morning Briefings". Most recent will come first.]


Come, come on . . . Come to Northern California with me.

It was quite a few years ago--in another galaxy far away, I taught these grueling 30-minute 'abs' classes--you know, where we did nothing but sit-ups and every conceivable derivation thereof to strengthen and define the abdominal muscles, and thereby the lower back as well.  One of my faithful students was a professional workout dude--an army vet who lived on his pension, and just worked out all day long.  At 39 years of age, 6 ft., 6 in. Tom was quite a physical specimen--202 pounds, and two percent body fat...yes, just 2 %.  One of the routines he had was running on the beach, dragging a 75-pound rucksack behind him in the sand to challenge and strengthen his body, working his core, his quadriceps and so on.  What an image!  It was hard work and a lot of strain on Tom to run fast with the weight he was dragging through the sand - that was the idea. 

 

But here's the thing--unless we are workout fiends of Tom's ilk, 

we are not meant to go through life 

dragging heavy rucksacks behind us.


Perhaps you have a rucksack that you are dragging along that contains worry or guilt, past pain or bitterness--unrealized dreams?  A broken heart, or something else entirely? Grief is awful heavy when we wear it all the time as well.

 

Hmmm, I'm wondering what your life would be like if you weren't dragging around that rucksack, if you surrendered to God all that you are, and all that you carry. What might that look like?

 

Hmmm, perhaps we first need to expose the crud in our rucksacks to the light. Let's name it.  Then, let's give it to God to sort out for us ... invite him to come 'make us new', and to heal us.  What a concept to invite and then give God permission to be who he wants to be in our lives.  I'm not fully sure of the reason, but a part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain.  Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel shamed, confused, and lost.  Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone,1 or a chance to restore us.

 

You might consider searching the Scriptures to get God's mind on what is dragging you down; after all, God's Word speaks to everything that concerns his children.

 

Worry?  "Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus ."2 Memorize these verses, get the weight of worry off your back!

 

Do you carry guilt in your rucksack?  Stop. Look what John wrote, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."3 So, do it: confess, turn away from it, and let it go.

 

Unrealized dreams? "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."4 [And from my heart to yours--do not ever stop dreaming!]

     

Feeling far from God?  "Then you will call upon me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.5    

                   

Broken hearted?  "The Lord is near the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."6  Crippled by pain from your past/childhood?  Jesus came to bring freedom to captives like me, like you.7  So go ahead - ask him to free you from what has come before...


Unpack your rucksack. . . get rid of your burdens. Surrender. Live your life unfettered and free, choosing the joy that is yours in Jesus alone. Walk in that daily.



Again, in a world that oft leaves us feeling stuck or paralyzed by what is going on around us, with little control, we who walk with God know how the story ends--God wins! Therefore, we of all people ought be known for our hope and joy.

 

Christine


 

1  Henri Nouwen, "Gracias", 1983

2 Philippians 4.6-7, New Living Translation.

3 1 John 1.9 for tomorrow, look up these

4 Psalm 37.4 verses - ask God to help you

5 Jeremiah 29.12-13 think his thoughts after him.

6  Psalm 34.18

7 Luke 4.18

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