Prayer Books & Inspirational Media


 UNDERSTANDING JOY
(from the Inspirational eBook & Paperback "Christine's Short-Shorts)
 

In 1998, a dear friend asked me what I really wanted to do with my life and the question was echoed the next day by my boss. This led me to the mirror to check my appearance in case I was unwittingly neglecting something. But I quickly concluded that I was just fine.

I believed the scripture that says if I seek the Kingdom of God, then I could have the desires of my heart. So from time to time I would think about my desires and immediate goals. I felt these goals could to be achievable by hard work, endurance, patience, and a dogged tenacity to stick with it until accomplished. But without fail my goals never came to pass. It was mainly because I had gotten used to settling for less. Consistently I catered to the whims and desires of other people, accepting whoever or whatever found its way into my life. Sometimes I was a doormat for people who showed no regard for my happiness and well-being.

My friend suggested that I write out my goals and desires again. “Hold nothing back and don’t settle for less than the best,” he added. So challenged to desire and challenged to hope, I had to ask myself what I really wanted. I took out a piece of paper and began to list some of my talents and abilities. I realized that I had a knack for helping others become what they wanted to be. Through words of encouragement, I would evaluate and mine the treasures of others to catch the fire of their vision or goals. I coached with ideas, suggestions and sought out resources to help them achieve their dream. Excited, as if their destiny was mine, I worked until their vision was a reality. I really enjoyed helping others succeed but I failed to pursue my own dreams.

The level of expectancy for good things and my desires were modified and distorted so much until they seemed like fantasies. Emotional pain and occasions of rejection I suppressed throughout the years evolved into episodes of depression. I lacked personal fulfillment, and I needed help. Resisting the work of the Holy Spirit as my helper left me kidnapped by depression. The first thing a kidnapper does is get control of you. To hold you captive, they bind your hands so you can’t do anything, like fight or resist. Your feet are bound to keep you from getting away. And your mouth is gagged so you can’t scream or cry out for help. My life seemed like it was stuck in cement, and I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on with me. I felt, looked and was depressed.

When I accepted Jesus Christ in my life in 1992, I was overjoyed about the tangibility of His presence in my life. It made me hungry to know more about Him. So I read the bible over and over, highlighting words that described His character and nature. There was joy in my salvation, wanting the Holy Spirit to have His way in every facet of my being. Then three years later, I experienced a complete transition. Every facet of my existence was challenged: physical, financial, relationships, environment, and career. Fortunately I was a member of a great ministry and found myself in church every time the doors were open. Prayer sessions were my significant indulgences and a source of comfort. Studying the scriptures and a consistent prayer life helped me live by faith to endure and overcome daily challenges.

Although I thought I was pursuing a deeper relationship with God, almost six years later, He had not been allowed into the places in my heart where I needed deliverance from loneliness, rejection and pain. I was casting provisional cares on Him, but held fast to depression that was dictating to my daily life. I was separated from my husband, a single mother, and loving the Lord. I had what the world calls a secure job (nothing is secure), pursued the purchase of a home (representing stability), and whatever came my way. My thinking was: “This is as good as its going to get for you Chris, so keep on loving God. Care for the remaining chick in the nest until he becomes an adult, then just die, go to heaven and be with the Lord.”

When I focused on challenges more than the victories I received when exercising faith, there were pity parties. When I rehearsed the victorious testimonies in my heart and praised the Lord, they moved me out of the confetti corners of misery and doubt. And I would get back on track with God for a while.

When my friend and my boss asked the question about what I wanted to do with my life, I realized later that they must have seen me shifting into depression. When depressed, I usually isolated myself from friends—especially church members. I didn’t read the scriptures nor did I pray. I started to think God didn’t love me and He had forsaken me. He wasn’t moving fast enough in my life. So I concentrated on my problems, creating scenarios in my mind of failure, and envisioned doom and gloom consequences. I was becoming an emotional wreck. And sobbing in the ladies restroom at work began to attract too much attention.

One day I decided to take a drive to a nearby park on my lunch break. The privacy of my car gave me the liberty to cry to my heart’s content, purging every possible tear. Afterwards, I adjusted myself and headed back to work. En route, I started talking to God. I told Him I know He had joy unspeakable and full of glory. Then I yelled out loud, “God if you have joy, then show me what it looks like and give it to me today! Then I added … “Please?”

Just as I made my request I had to stop for the red light at an intersection. As I waited, there was a woman and a little girl standing on the corner and when the “Walk” signal flashed for them to cross, the woman grabbed the little girl’s hand. As they stepped off the curb and entered into the crosswalk, the little girl started skipping. She had a great big smile on her face and her ponytail bounced and swayed as she skipped. She kept pace with the woman until they reached the opposite corner. They started walking in the direction I was driving, and the woman let go of the little girl’s hand but she continued to skip with joy and abandon. The scene grabbed my heart and I burst into tears. I witnessed the Lord’s response to my request.

When I got to the parking lot at work, there was still a little time left for my break. So I stayed in the car and praised the Lord. He ministered to me about what I had seen. The woman was just like God. He takes us by the hand to lead, guide and direct our path. He grips us firmly in the places where our walk with Him may present danger, obstacles or challenges although we have the right of way. But we can be like a child and skip with joy. We can abandon our hearts to His care and safety, even when our hand is not in His. It is all about keeping our faith, trust and confidence in Him.

Matthew 18:3—And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 18:17—Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Romans 14:17—For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

I felt so happy because the depression quickly faded away. And I repented to God for willingly indulging in fear, anxiety, sadness and depression. My actions had opened the door for oppression. I knew better than that because I was filled with my comforter, helper and teacher, the Holy Spirit. He is joy and I resisted Him to have my own way. And I didn’t allow Him to help me, but accused Him of forsaking me.

All of us are confronted with sorrow, grief, and losses in many facets and on many levels. There are times when it seems like God isn’t moving fast enough on our behalf. But we must keep our faith, trust and confidence in Him and do so with patience. Even if our circumstance does not change right away, He is still able to give His peace as you wait. When God works in our life, He removes affliction, pain, brokenness, discouragement, fears and anxiety if you allow Him to. I am so glad to learn that when we ask Him to intervene in any circumstance, He does. Isaiah 61:3—To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

When children skip, they always appear to be happy, like there is not a care in the world. And I’ve never seen them do it while sad. No one is taught how to skip but it is something that is accomplished naturally.

The word “skip” according to Wilkipedia is – A hippity-hoppity gait (foot strike) that comes naturally to children. According to the American Heritage Dictionary it is — to move by hopping on one foot and then the other; to leap or bound lightly about; and to bounce over or to strike a surface at such an angle as to be deflected.

After a period of time and maturity, children stop skipping. It is rare to see an adult skip. But Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scare Crow, and the Cowardly Lion did skip down the Yellow Brick Road on the way to see the Wizard of Oz. Although we adults may have stopped, we have the memory and ability to skip if we desire to do so. To me, skipping on the Yellow Brick Road scenes in “The Wizard of Oz” depicts a faith, trust and belief that we are on the right path, God’s path of righteousness. And we will get what we need most from the One who has it all and is able to give it. The Lord gives exceeding and abundantly above all we could ever ask or think.

One evening, a few years ago, while in an intercessory prayer session, we were praying for people bound by oppression and depression. The Lord reminded me of the little girl skipping. So my daughter-in-law and I prayed that the child-like joy and abandon of the Lord would overwhelm the spirit of heaviness and sadness for those who needed deliverance. And in their hearts they would experience the exhilaration that comes from skipping.

If you try it, skipping is a great cardio-vascular workout. And you will most likely get a good laugh, because you’ll think that you, or the other person doing it with you, look ridiculous. When you skip, you are physically leaping up and moving forward. That is what God wants us to do as we grow, mature in Him, and listen for His voice through the unction of the Holy Spirit. Skipping moves us upward and forward.

Psalm 29:4-6—The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. 

Wow, can you imagine trees skipping? But God is all powerful and mighty and He can do what He pleases. The spiritual implications of the word “skip” are very significant. Other definitions according to the American Heritage Dictionary include:

1. To pass from point to point, omitting or disregarding what intervenes.

When you know and trust that your life is in the hands of the Lord, you don’t have to indulge in inordinate fear and anxiety of people, places or things.

Psalm 27:2-4—When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

2. To cease consideration or treatment of.

When you guard and direct your thoughts with good things it helps to keep you from dwelling on past failures, present challenges, or an unknown future.

Philippians 3:13-14—Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:8—Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

3. To be promoted in school beyond the next regular class or grade.

Because of obedience to God, your life will yield spiritual growth, maturity, acceleration, promotion, or elevation.

Psalm 92:12-13—But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.

Romans 12:2—And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

4. To break loose and leave suddenly, as from confinement or from a difficult or threatening situation.

This is having the ability to escape captivity and bondage to people, places, events, or things that challenge your walk with God and leads to sin. Depression made me feel as though I was kidnapped and stuck in my circumstances.

Luke 6:22-23—Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

1Corinthians 10:13—There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

5. Fail to attend on purpose.

You will not commune or engage with the enemy when he tries to provoke you into coming into alignment with his plans. Keep your trust and confidence in the Lord as you wait on instructions from Him.

Psalm 37:7—Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Proverbs 4:14—Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

The next time challenges come your way to steal your joy or hold you captive to depression or any other circumstance, remember your position in the kingdom of God. Your enemy satan, will try to gag your mouth or bind your hands and feet so he can ultimately destroy you. So open your mouth wide to praise the name of the Lord. Clap your hands with thanksgiving to your Great King and Abba Father. And use your feet to skip a little.
 
Christine Brooks Martin
"Pray What God Says"
"Talk to God with Affirmations of Faith"
"Christine's Short-Shorts"
(eBook & Paperback)
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Comments on: "Understanding Joy" (1)

  1. Becki Lieberknecht said:

    I DO feel kidnapped and stuck right now..and I KNOW in my head that praising God makes all the difference…I just have to start doing it every day so it gets back into my heart…thank you!

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