Friday, March 23, 2007

The Great Plot Twist

The Great Plot Twist

Even though many artists are melancholy, and that can help drive the struggle to create and produce artistic work, I also need a strong infusion of JOY to keep me going. Wonder, awe, gratitude at new things I learn about God are all important fuel for the long hard work of writing.

But we humans have an enemy. A joy-thief. A fallen depraved angel set on stealing joy from God’s dear children in every way he can. And he uses any tools to do it. In the midst of the joy of fellowship and companionship, a friend’s off-hand comment leaves a slight sting. We are ready to move on. Yet the enemy grabs that dart and pushes it deep into our thoughts and twists it, hoping it will fester instead of glance off.

A word of thanks or commendation comes our way. One deep breath in to savor, grateful that our work touched someone. But before we can exhale, the enemy twists that gracious gift and whispers, “how are you going to live up to this?” And the joy becomes a heavy weight on the shoulders.

We rise from our knees, forgiven, refreshed from a time of worship and repentance. One of the most profound joys a human can feel. The prodigal son embraced in the Father’s arms. But before we walk too many steps forward into our new life, the enemy is there to whisper, “You’ve let Him down. How could He really love you?” He chants his old taunt, “Has God REALLY said?”

How cruel that so often our joy is snatched. Poisoned. Corrupted.

But then comes God’s great plot twist.

Because where our enemy can take beautiful joyous moments and mess them up a little – wrinkle and stain them—our God does something much more amazing.

He takes the deepest of pain, failure, discouragement – and births JOY in those places. Now THAT is power.

The other day, my husband and I worked on our taxes. One of my least favorite days of the year. We have completely different emotional responses to the choices that go into managing money – so on tax day we not only have to deal with the bleak state of our finances, we stare at each other in exasperation because we barely speak the same language. He produces amazing spreadsheets on Quicken and TurboTax, while I jot notes in pencil on a 3x5 card. But yesterday, I realized our teamwork has improved. After twenty-seven years of marriage, we’ve gotten better at some of these things. Our love is a wee bit bigger than the confusion and annoyance of sorting through receipts and confronting yet another tough year. Talk about a miracle. God lit a flicker of JOY in the midst of tax day. Joy that He’s our CEO, and joy that we’re getting better at the marriage adventure, and joy that all our kids were home and the house was full of chatter and laughter so that we were reminded that there is a worthwhile reason to deal with the tedious chores.

Of course, tax day isn’t the deepest of pain, failure, and discouragement (at least not quite). Maybe in coming days I’ll share the ways God created joy in truly joyless places – the roofless house attacked by hail, the dusty shoulder of the freeway with a blown head gasket. The emergency room, the detox center, the nursing home, the graveside.

But today I’m taking joy in the way God met my husband and I during tax day.

How about you? Have you seen one of God’s amazing plot twists recently? How has he turned mourning into dancing in your life? How has He given you the oil of gladness for the spirit of heaviness? Please leave a comment and let me know!


Cheryl Klarich said...

I love this!
When I was a new Christian I thought I had arrived- graduated from the school of hard knocks-so to speak. I have come to realize that I'm now spending the rest of my life in graduate school...
You bring such sunshine to the process.. Thank you.

Katie said...

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it...I'm going to have to let it simmer and think on it, it's a biggie!

My husband and I have been practicing finding joy in everything (though we didn't call it that-thanks for the title!) this month since he travels on business for a month at a time and we miss each other so much.

For this latest trip, we decided to try something else. We stopped feeling sorry for ourselves and stopped letting others feel sorry for us and we spend each conversation talking about how wonderfully joyus and blessed each of our days were. Finding only the good and not letting any negative or whiney feelings in the door. It's been such a blessing. 3 weeks, so far, has felt like 2 days. Far from feeling distant, we feel as if we're in the same room at all times. I can't wait to share your thoughts on the Joy factor with him. Thanks Sharon. Oh, and CUTE picture of you today!

Katie Johnson

Sharon Hinck said...

Cheryl - it's so true. Some of us thought that once we started the Christian walk, everything would become easy - but the adventure was only beginning.

Katie - what a TERRIFIC example of God bringing joy into a tough circumstance. I ache for the time apart you and your husband have to endure, but you've turned it into a wonderful, romantic, relationship building experience.How cool that God can bring us joy even in a time like that!
Thanks for sharing!

Rel said...

Sharon - writer of the year, my friend!!! What a blessing :) I am so pleased for you. Thanks to Julie Carobini for posting about it on her blog!

WayneThomasBatson said...

Hey, Sharon! There was no place to comment on your newest post, so I had to post here.

WAY TO GO!!! Writer of the year??? Are you kidding me? That SO rocks! Praise God for you and your work. Funny how our awesome God gives so much more than we could ask or imagine. ;-)

Sharon Hinck said...

Hi, Wayne!
Thank you for letting me know...I fixed the other post to it will allow comments. And thanks for your excitement. God is so amazing and creative in the ways He brings us encouragement.