Most times when I've been window shopping I view the beautiful clothing and say, "I could never afford that, it's too expensive--too extravagant." I don't even bother to go into the store and ask the price or try on the piece of clothing. I judge that I'm ineligible for something so lavish. Sometimes I think I have a similar attitude toward the concept of joy in my life. I've often passed up the notion of joy ever being real for me--too much to hope for--I could never expect that kind of life in this chaotic and oppressive world. But there was the time I saw a dress in a store that caught my eye. The dress was my size and the color of poinsettias. I dared to take it to the fitting room. When I pulled it over my head, the fabric fell in perfect folds over my body--the neckline v-shaped, the length halfway down my calves, three quarter-length sleeves. I held the skirt on each side between my fingers and twirled in front of the mirror. I put away the other clothing in my shopping cart. I would take the money I had budgeted and buy this one dress. I walked out of the store knowing I'd laid hold of the best.
I wore that dress often. And every time I did, I felt confident and comfortable. I could move and bend without feeliing bound and ready to take it off the moment I got home. I got compliments every time I wore it.
Is laying hold of joy perhaps like choosing to pay the price for a beautiful garment? I've thought about this question over these last weeks as I've contemplated the topic of joy.
Remembering when I bought the crimson-colored dress, reminded me that I took action to acquire it. I believed the garment was something I could possess. And when I experienced the perfect fit and beauty of the fabric, I was willing to lay aside other apparel to own it.
Lately, I've wanted to experience joy, not wanting to pass it up--seeing it in the window, so to speak, going into the store and requesting to try it on. And when I see the price tag attached to the sleeve and turn it over, how much will it cost? For me, the investment contains several elements...
First, I must believe that I'm eligible for joy--turn my face to the one who promises joy in this life, the Lord Jesus. "I believe you, Lord, that I'm eligible for joy because you've promised it to me, despite my circumstances. I set my face like flint to turn to you." Second, I go to Him consistently and drink my fill of His presence and consume His Word. And third, I intentionally walk away from the negative. I cannot afford to listen to the language of hell, even though I am often sorely attracted to fear-based content on the internet, or being inducted into internalzing words of nay sayers, people who constantly promote doom and gloom. I second guess what I've bought. "Are they right? Maybe I should reconsider my purchase."
But then I always come back to the conclusion that I've chosen best. The price is worth it, no matter what others may have chosen or are doing. Just the other day, I stood on the shores of my beloved tidal creek at the end of the street. It was high tide, the current fast and steady. I lifted my arms and looked up into the span of blue sky and said out loud, "It's me, God It's me. It's me saying thank you. Thank you for the joy you place in my heart, this feeling of contentment in a place so deep I can't explain it. It's me rejoicing. It's me. It's me. Thank you. I'm grateful. I'm so grateful." And the wind began to gust and blow the most delicious breeze across my face. I could imagine that wind lifting the hem of my red dress, the delicate fabric swirling around my knees.