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The Nourishing Place

The Educational Support Organization, Inc.

Sermon, May 5, 2019

Have you ever had an idea, or an aha moment that changed your anxiety to joy?

I’ve had many of those, but the earliest I remember was when I was very young.  My mother told me I was a whiny baby scared of everybody and everything.  I was a fearful child. I do remember as a very young child I saw a globe and was told our earth, our planet, was round like a great big ball.  I became so fearful of falling off the earth I remember walking everywhere with baby steps, looking for the possible dropoff spots. Often I was so  anxious I would not go outside.  My lesson about the roundness of the earth was not complete...my mother should have added knowledge gravity holding on to me, thereby ensuring me I would not fall off the earth into outer space.  Had that fact been added to my knowledge perhaps I would not have been so anxious.  However, when I was assured that gravity worked it was in this way.  My mother said, “Jane, when you fall do you fall up or down?  “Down!”  I said knowingly.  “Well, that is gravity at work.  It will always hold on to you as long as your feet are on the planet.”  I changed my anxiety into rejoicing that I would not fall into open space.  And, believe it or not, I remember feeling lighter...no burden.

The same sort of learning occurred years later when I was told joy, and joyful living, is based on trust.  I thought joy was the same thing as happiness and it only occurred when good things happened to me. When I was hurt, or others were mean to me, I couldn’t possibly be happy or joyful.   Anxiety cancels out joy.

So lets look at what the spiritual meaning of joy, joyful living, and rejoicing really means.

Our scripture today teaches us about joy. Joy depends on trust in our God.  Joy and joyful living comes from the inside out, not the outside in.  It is a character trait that is a result of complete trust in the creator who created you. 

I realize most of us love our God and honor our God.  But how many of us truly trust God, or others?  Trust them with our lives?  I began to learn about real trust as an 11 year old girl scout.  Our counselor, who was Sybil Fant, wanted us to take a trust training.  Here is what happened in our trust training.  Ten of us girl scouts were taken out to the deep woods with no phones, no cars, no adults except Sybil.  In the training session each one of us was blindfolded and told that we would be shoved hard, and if someone did not catch us we could fall to the ground and be hurt.  Sybil told us this would be a fun experience. None of us wanted to participate because none of us trusted each other.  It was a fearful experience.  We discovered for ourselves that when anxiety is present joy is not! 

When it was my time to be blindfolded and shoved, I jumped out of the way.  That was not allowed.  We were there to learn to trust that a friend would catch us.  Reluctantly I allowed my self to be pushed knowing I would hit the rocky ground and be wounded.   Imagine my surprise when I was shoved  hard and was caught in the arms of a friend.  I was amazed that my friend came through for me.   We had to do that exercise over and over again until we could joyfully be blindfolded, pushed hard, and relax knowing we would be caught.  When the fear and anxiety were gone, joy erupted from all of us.

When all the trusting exercises were over, our counselor simply said to us:  that is how you trust your God to guide your life...because God is smarter than you are and loves you more than you love yourself. 

You want to be joyful? Then learn to trust in your God with every aspect of your life.

When you let go of your own ego, give up your own pitiful sense of thinking you are in control, when you trust your entire life to your God, you will have joy that will not disappear...no matter what is happening on the outside of you.  That kind of joy is a state of being  Circumstances or situations will not change the internal joy you have by trusting God to lead and guide you, and by allowing yourself to experience the privilege of co-living with your God.

I honor this verse from Isaiah:  “I, your God, will keep in perfect peace and joy those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in me and my eternal wisdom.” 26: 3  That kind of trust will result in your not panicking, not fretting, not obsessing...the joy is resting in His plans for you.  Whether you think what you experience is good or bad, helpful or hurtful, nonetheless God will see that you have the experiences you need to be the person he sent you here to be.

Psalm 86 assures us that God is more than able to gladden the soul and fill a servant’s heart with joy.  When you request God to make your heart glad, His response is “sure, yes, always.  Your joy  depends on your trust in me.”

So when you feel your life is not what you desire, if your job is not what you want, if life is too big of a challenge for you, if your friendships are struggling, if your family is in distress, if your finances are weak, if your stress is way too high, then I have great news for you.  Ask God for joy, for joyful living...and you will receive it and more when you trust God more than you trust your self, your spouse, your best friend, your bank account, and your insurance. 

Do you want to trust eternal God or man made stuff that is always temporary?  Which is better for you and longer lasting?  It’s your choice.  However, if you want joy, and a joyful, rejoicing life, then allow yourself to choose to trust God with every aspect of your life.  It is a choice.

As the Psalmist taught us, “bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.”

Let’s make the healthy choice... trust makes our lives and our world a more loving, joyous place to be.  That is the spiritual take on joy and trust.  Think about it.