Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The flag of Joy

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 when we 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) is hollow.

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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Masterpieces of brokenness


I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true
You're a masterpiece
That all creation
Quietly applauds
And you're covered with
The fingerprints
Of God

~ Steven Curtis Chapman ~

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A new normal

What a strange glee,
That I feel free,
No longer choked by chains
Of insecurity.

What a strange notion,
Absolution,
Gone is the weight
Of revolution.

What a strange thought,
From wreckage wrought,
Was once impossible
 Yet now is nought.

What a strange feeling,
This lightness appealing,
Sorrows from before
Give way to dreaming.

What a strange turn,
That what once could burn,
Have no more regard
No longings return.

What a great joy,
With wonder employ,
How could it be?
But He did it for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jars of Clay


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.

Joshua 24:15
...but as for me, and my household, we will serve the Lord.