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.

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