To step out into the world in joy – I had allowed this to become a dead dream, hidden away in dusty archives of my memory. But maybe even I can walk in joy in this world.
The first step to joy has to be seeing despair.
Stepping into freedom requires unlocking of bonds. If I think I am already free when actually I am enslaved, if I think I know joy when all I have is a mirage, what I need most is a reality check.
This is the sort of reality check the Bible is good at giving me.
Is God my greatest joy?
To be a Christian is to have eternal life, and as our Lord says in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. So the test we apply to ourselves is that. Not, “Have I done this or that?” My test is a positive one: “Do I know God? Is Jesus Christ real to me?” I am not asking whether you know things about Him but do you know God, are you enjoying God, is God the centre of your life, the soul of your being, the source of your greatest joy? He is meant to be. He made man in such a way that this was to be the position, that man might dwell in communion with God and enjoy God and walk with God. You and I are meant to be like that, and if we are not like that, it is sin. That is the essence of sin. We have no right not to be like that. That is sin of the deepest and worst type. The essence of sin, in other words, is that we do not live entirely to the glory of God.
(D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure)
Can I swallow this: I have no right to not be dwelling in communion with God and delighting in Him as my greatest joy.
In theory I have known this for a long time, we are created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Maybe it is the brusque Welsh accent of Lloyd-Jones telling me I have no right to be anything other than joyful which has bumped me out of my defeatist rut.
Obviously I cannot instantly make myself joyful. What I can do is to keep mindful of where I was and where I now am. There was a time when I walked in complete blindness to my need of God or salvation. Then in a peculiar turn of events I had my eyes opened to see that Jesus is the Son of God and I am a sinner. I was asked if I would like to know Jesus better and said, “yes”. In the next few moments, as I was lead in prayer, Jesus said to me as He has to countless others: “your sins are forgiven” (see Luke 7:47-50).
Considering this gives me joy. Perhaps not the flamboyant joy that would cause be to dress like a flower, but definitely joy. Enough to cause me to praise God wherever I am and whatever I am doing. A step in the right direction.