“Breathing for the first time.”
That is how I often describe the sensation of experiencing relationship with Jesus for the very first time. Once you have experienced air no one can argue with you whether or not air exists. You have breathed it, you have tasted it. It sustains you. You can feel the life that it injects into you. It quite literally makes you come alive. In the same way relationship with Jesus is something that absolutely awakens you spiritually.
Now, have you ever experienced what it is like not to have access to air? Have you ever had a moment where you were underwater, or where you were sitting by a campfire and the smoke kept blowing in your face, and you couldn’t get that breath of air? If you have been in that situation then you understand the sensation that suddenly reverberates through your body. There is this moment where you panic; you swallow hard trying to fight back the urge to breathe in. Everything inside of you is screaming, “SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT!” It is in that moment that you realize that there is literally nothing more important to you, physically, than getting that breath of air.
Christians, spiritually, we experience the same sensation. Joy is a byproduct of living a Christ-centered life. Joy is defined in a couple of different ways. Webster’s defines joy as, “a source or cause of great happiness.” Joy is also associated with a feeling of contentment and peace that does not easily go away.
When we are walking in right relationship with Jesus Christ, when He is at the center of our lives, there is a feeling of joy and peace that overwhelms like nothing that can be put into words. It is a joy that is deeper than any kind of happiness or elation you have from any other thing in this world. It brings about rest, true rest. A rest that is deeper than what you experience when you lay your head on a pillow at night.
David says, about God,
“You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” (Psalm 16:11)
David is acknowledging that in the presence of God there is abundant JOY. Only in Him. When we, as believers, are not walking in tune with the Lord, when we are not pursuing Him daily and dying to self daily, we often times experience a lack of joy. Suddenly, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of anxiety and anger and stress and so many other things flood in, and we think, “What is happening to me? Where has all the joy gone?” The truth of the matter is that the joy has been depleted in you in that moment, but the source of joy never went anywhere. You moved away from the source.
John Maxwell talks about how we, as humans, have this natural tendency to drift. And, it is never a drift toward what is good or what is right. We have this tendency to drift toward things like selfishness, laziness, apathy. The drift is just a natural consequence of sin. It is no shocker then that we drift away from the very thing that is the source of all goodness, peace, joy, hope and life. The beautiful part, though, is that THE Source of Life, Jesus Christ, The Great Redeemer, and The Rescuer of Souls has not moved. He LOVES YOU. His desire is that you cling to Him in. His desire is to fill you.
So, here is my question for you today. Have you drifted from the source of joy, Christian? Have you occupied yourself with things of this world to the extent that you are living like you are not HIS? As a believer, if you are asking yourself, “Where has all the joy gone?”, then maybe it is time to ask different question. Perhaps you should be asking “Where have I drifted?” and “How do I get back?”
The answer to the second question is easy. I’ll give you a hint. The way back starts with repentance, my friend.