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Joy and Freedom
Chaplain Joy L. Smith

The road to emotional freedom has bumps and detours.  Reaching peace and happiness involves effort, yet rewards can be gained beyond what is thought possible.

The drawing, here, was done by a caricature artist at an open house attended a Caricature of Joyfew years back.  The only thing this artist knew about me was that I am a chaplain.  Yet, in less than five minutes, I saw him portray the spiritual journey.  It’s like the ride takes place on a tricycle with training wheels.  As much as we would like to have a Harley experience, that just isn’t there for us when it comes to healing the wounds of the past and learning how to appropriate–as fully as possible–God’s truths intended for our lives. We do this in slow mo!

Although this is true, once we get a taste of the freedom that comes with healing our emotional wounds, we are not likely to turn back.  And, if we set our wills to deal with difficult emotions, while doing continual forgiveness work, joy springs forth from the soul.  Why?  Because, we can't put a lid on our difficult feelings without also capping off most of our joy as well.  As we reckon with feelings that are difficult to handle, versus pushing those down deep inside, we find our joy coming forth, as we have much for which to praise God.  Soon, more and more excitement, enthusiasm, gladness, and peace of heart are present. Here is the key to living a life of emotional freedom.  This is where we live on “the celebration side.”  Voile!  The Harley experience arrives.

Through the ages, wisdom has flowed to humanity.  Socrates once said, “Know thyself.”  He knew well that “the life which is unexamined is not worth living.”  Centuries later, William Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.”  These writers urge us to examine our hearts.  King David’s words, after he looked within, are common to my own.  He cried out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  The greatest of all wisdom comes to play when, after examining, we align our lives with what God wants of us.  With God’s help, our hearts are made clean, and we are back on “the concrete” of righteous living wherein we respect ourselves, enjoy others, and abide within God’s intentions.

There are numerous passages in the Bible that tell us to rejoice.  If we, as believers, can’t rejoice, but instead live and act as if life on earth is of primary importance, we are not living in truth.  This world is only a brief part of eternal existence.  We are just passing through.  Life here, presents us with an opportunity to learn how to become more and more deeply involved with the Lord, our Creator.  It is within this wonderful privilege that we hear God’s call as to how we can best develop our gifts in ways that make the best of ourselves and serve the needs of our families and others.
Jesus talked much about joy, even under the shadow of the cross.  We are meant to enjoy our lives.1  And, for sure, there is joy in the presence of the Lord.  We can feel that joy and that Presence while reading Scripture.  Within those pages, the character and wondrous nature of God shows up.  Joy can’t help but arise when we capture some of the essence of what God and His goodness is about.  It is easy to rejoice once we realize messages such as Philippians 4:4-7, are right on track–and put them to practice:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”  (Phil 4:4-7).

1 John 16:24, John 10:10, I Peter 1:8, Psalm 5:11, John 16:22. (These are just a few of the passages telling us of the joy intended for us.)