I Lost the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart

My backyard is a huge tiered hill. When Megan and I first moved in and I mowed the yard for the first time it took nearly two hours. Pushing the mower up and down the forty-five-degree hill was tiring. It was like hiking up a mountain in the noonday sun except you were also pushing a lawnmower. 

What the hill in my backyard looks like to me

What the hill in my backyard looks like to me

This was the first time I realized the importance of keeping my joy.

When finished mowing, I complained to Megan about how much I despised that chore and that I also felt unsafe on the hill. I was concerned that a trip or a fall could easily cause an accident where the lawnmower and me tumbled down the hill.  My first thought was to hire someone to mow it from now on.

Megan, who was my newlywed bride, had another suggestion. Essentially, she wanted me to man up and mow it myself. So, that first season, I did it all by myself. Complaining both in my mind and out loud each time I did.

The following year, I convinced Megan to let me have someone come out and do it. This was not an easy task, the first two professionals to come look at the property and offer a quote both said the hill was, “too steep and dangerous” for them to even consider the job.  I did, however, finally find a company willing to take on the work for a good price. 

On the days their team shows up, the employees unload off a flatbed trailer and unpack a commercial grade lawn mower that looks like more like a tractor. The driver then takes the mower to the backyard where he drives it up and down that steep hill like it is a lazy Sunday afternoon drive on a flat paved road home from church. Those hills pose no threat to this machine. The job that once took me two hours to finish is done in fifteen minutes.  My joy is multiplied while I watch.

Galatians 5:22-23 says that joy, alongside love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are fruits of the spirit – which means they should be seen in the lives of believers for others to see. In the same way an apple can be seen on an apple tree, that apple can also fall to the ground or be pulled from its position of care earlier than it is meant to be. Maybe the fruit is lost to the tree due to weather or because an eager child is looking for an afternoon snack. Either way, once gone that fruit is now no longer part of that tree.

I have heard many Christians speak about not letting the enemy steal your joy. There is no mention of this exact phrase in Scripture, but I do believe that God desires the fruit of our spirit to be maintained, visible and vibrant at all times. God wants believers to exhibit love like He does and to be patient in times of desire.  .

God wants us to live this way, not just so that we can have joy but so that others can as well. Pastor Aeneas Williams from my home Spirit Church in St. Louis once said, “the fruit of the tree is not for the tree itself.” An apple tree does not eat apples to sustain its life. Rather, it produces fruit that will sustain the lives of others.

Christians who act in love, goodness and self-control aren’t just exhibiting these characteristics in a way the benefits them, but all those around them.  My daughter is probably thankful (even if she doesn’t know it at the time) whenever I restrain (self-control) from spanking her after extreme misbehavior.  In addition, the fruit of faithfulness in my life has allowed me the opportunity to write book and articles that I hope will encourage and lift up those looking to grow closer to Christ.

Until I was born again, my adult life consisted of mostly bad days that stemmed from the tree of my gambling addiction. Instead of love, joy and peace – my life outside of Christ produced anger, depression and worry.  I was unsatisfied with every part of my life for years. Until that night I cried out and invited Christ into my life.

At first, my wife didn’t understand why I would stop projects around the house or other tasks that stole my joy when I wasn’t able to complete them correctly or in a timely manner. I would sarcastically explain to her that God has gifted someone to do these things, I must not be one of them. The truth, however, is much simpler but it took me a long time to explain correctly.

I lived what felt like an entire life without joy. I also know what it’s like to know the joy of the Lord and also how to find peace in troublesome times.  These experiences have carved out a simple truth in my life:

I know what it’s like to live without joy and now I refuse to live without it.

Knowing Christ – which encompasses knowing His love, joy and peace comes from putting our trust in Him (Romans 15:13). That trust or faith can provide the gift of salvation, an answer to prayer or a fruit of the spirit to manifest in your life.  There will be moments the enemy will try and steal your joy.  You can keep your fruit on your tree if you can begin to identify moments in your own life where your joy is at risk and find ways to protect it.

For me, it is sometimes as simple as stopping a task before it is finished. However, I find that joy is harder to protect in our relationships with others. My feelings and history with a person can cause me to lose my joy for longer than I would like when the fruit of that relationship sours.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit (when invited to) can help guide me back to the tree of God’s good fruit and back into a covering of joy.

When you have joy, you have a weapon that can defeat the enemy and cause others to find Christ. Don’t lose it. You don’t want to be on battlefield empty handed.

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