Finding Joy

     Everyone wants to be happy.  Everyone wants to have lives filled with joy.  How do we find joy? 
     First, live connected.  So many people are very lonely.  Our design as humans is to find connection.  First and foremost, with our Creator and second with others.  In the story of human origins in the book of Genesis it describes a time when God walked with man as a friend.  Each of us is made to have a deep, personal relationship with God.  No wonder joy is called a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Out of connection with God flows joy.  But after God made the man Adam He stops and says “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) meaning without human companionship.  Then he created woman and marriage and ultimately children.  This relational connection with God and with other humans is one critical piece of having a joy-filled life.       
     Second, spend more time in nature.  Once again in Genesis we see that man’s original home was a garden paradise called Eden.  In our modern world of brick, mortar and concrete take some time to go outside.  It could be as simple as a walk beside the Chena river, or explore Denali National Park or go camping or hunting.  When I do individual spiritual plans with people I often ask “when do you feel closest to God?”  The answer I hear from many is “when I am out in nature.”  If you want more joy in your life get outside and enjoy our stunningly beautiful state. 
     Third, discern your calling.  Every Christian has general callings on our life, to love God and love people and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) but those callings are expressed through our unique, specific purposes.  Some are called to be teachers, others to foster children, others to lead organizations.  Our vocation takes up to 40 to 60 hours a week for most of us.  That is a huge chunk of time to either live in alignment with God’s specific calling on our life or to just do a job.  Most jobs can be done for the glory of God, but not every job is God’s plan A for you.  Prayerfully discern His calling on your life and walk that out. 
     Forth, forgive those who have wounded you.  Nothing crushes the joy out of a heart faster than bitterness and resentment.  We all have been wounded by someone; what we do with that pain makes all the difference.  When you choose to forgive someone, you choose to see his humanity, not just how he hurt you. Pray for him and strive to bless him instead of hurt him.  Those who do not forgive eventually become miserable.   But if you will forgive, your heart is free to find joy in life. 
     Fifth, practice gratitude.  None of us have everything we want, the key is to want and appreciate what we do have.  Thank God in prayer for the little blessings you find in your life when you pause long enough to look.  Start a gratitude journal.  Begin your day thanking God for three things from the day before.  When we look at life through a lens of gratitude the result is joy.  
     In conclusion, joy is not automatic.  It flows from our decisions.  Choose joy!
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church