Joy is the flag flown high
From the castle of my heart
For the King is in residence there
When I was younger, I used to assume that I flew the flag. As pop culture will certainly attest, we have exalted ourselves as the Davids of Israel, the heroes of our imagination, the underdog who saves the day. Recently however, this old Sunday School song has returned to
memory to inform me anew.
Traditionally, the monarch's flag is flown from the
castle to declare that the monarch is "in residence." Through seasons of plenty or prolonged moments of disaster and uncertainty, though the
castle may be under relentless siege from all sides, even when rescue seems
unlikely or even impossible, that the flag continues to fly is testament that the Ruler
remains, that the castle has not been captured by belligerent forces.
This new understanding has brought fresh appreciation of a song previously
sang by rote. Today I understand that Joy flies high regardless of my emotions
and regardless of my circumstances. Happiness may be fleeting (especially if fueled by sugar-heavy chocolate) but Joy is a constant even on days that seem
dull and grey. It flies high and defiant against enemies who threaten to
overtake, sounding truth through trials. Joy entered the moment God the Joy
Giver claimed ownership over my life and it continues to declare the residence
of the King who dwells within.
Often, it is hard to find the distinction between happiness and joy.
Sometimes the two are seemingly intertwined yet at other times, even
are bereft of happiness, there is assurance of joy, if but a glimmer.
The world tells us to "seek happiness" but that's where wisdom leaves
and foolishness takes over. As much as we want to believe it, happiness
is not rooted in securing a home, a high-flying job or an exclusive
romantic relationship. We need only to listen to the woes of the world -
the lifelong mortgage, debilitating anxiety and crushing infidelity -
to realise that the advertised honeymoon (terms & conditions apply)
Our desires reveal the object of our Joy. It is a pet peeve of mine whenever Christians utilise Psalm 37:4 as a preamble guarantee of a soulmate. Good as relationships are, if we are sincere in delighting ourselves in God, His ownership becomes our central delight. A delight and not drudgery. Dynamic, not drone-like. Alive, not artificial. His goodness is our encouragement. Doing His will becomes our motivation and delight. In striving to please Him, our happiness is fulfilled.
Romantic affiliations, though good, only fulfil their goodness within the scope of God's pleasing will. Whilst by nature demanding, requiring our urgent attention, relations will ultimately only decay with time; an investment worth entering into, but only with sufficient and thought-out God-centered reason and purpose.
Admittedly, it is easy to be labelled "sour grapes" but I find it neither a burden nor a prerogative for me to prove otherwise :)
Even though I myself may lose sight of Joy when troubles overwhelm, the flag
continues to fly high, reminding both myself and the world of the sovereignty
and authority of the King who whose banner over me is love.
As it was the year before, the herald of a new year meant it was time for me to face the contents of
my "annual jar." I was terrified to revisit what I thought would be a
reopening of wounds that never healed; reminders of a seared spirit,
failed resolve and crushed ambition.
Instead, what met me in my
fear was grace upon grace. Every sting had been met with unreserved
mercy and every loss with undeserved opportunity. The effects of 2016
still reverberate but I look forward to new mercies in 2017, knowing that my burdens are carried by One whose strength I will continue to depend on and draw from, despite ongoing tensions as I try to grasp the magnitude between striving and yielding, servanthood and inheritance, Creator and created.
The 2016 jar is the photo above is set against the backdrop of an embroidered tus kii.
Found in Kazakh gers, also known as yurts, of western Mongolia, the tapestry design is
purposely left unfinished to signify that life, for all its tragedy and
beauty, continues regardless. May today mark the beginning of renewed focus, of not holding back, for free falling.
...but as for me, and my household, we will serve the Lord.
It matters less, the frequency, brevity or length of my internal monologue. A word be too much, more often too little, but if anything be said, since we are all exiles in a strange land from every tribe, nation and tongue, have compassion! This race is won not by individuals; neither the first nor the last for those who are ahead will have to wait awhile until the last person in Christ crosses the finish line and the last would not be last unless someone crossed the line before him.
I exist in a stream of consciousness that exists in a magical land of blue dragons and bottomless cliffs baked in the orange glow of a setting sun. Likes chocolate. And horses. A lot. Confused ENTJ-ENTP-INTP-ENFP. Jesus Freak.