Let’s get a couple of things really clear off the bat. I believe that joy is a choice. Just like I can choose to love someone, or choose what color socks I’m wearing in the morning, I can also choose to be joyful. My emotions tell me a lot about myself, but I can proclaim over myself a persistent attitude of joyfulness and live in that proclamation.
Now if you are anything like me, and I pray that you are not, then you suffer from a little thing known as a rebellious spirit. I had a very long chat with my rebellious spirit over the past two days that went something like this.
“Rejoice in the LORD!” I said. “The joy of the LORD is your strength! Consider it a great joy when you experience trials!”
To which my rebellious spirit replied, “Screw that, hand me the Dayquil.”
Ok this seems innocent enough right? I mean as far as rebellion and disobedience go that’s not all that bad. I tell my spirit to rejoice in sickness (check out Brother Laurence for more on that one) and my spirit says “forget joy, I want to get well!” Now there is a pretty good precedent for this one after all no one likes being sick and Jesus made a point of healing the sick. He always started off by asking “Do you want to be well?” Can you imagine what would have happened if someone had said, “No Lord, don’t heal me! I’m trying to fully rely on you in my suffering!”
So I let that one slide. I don’t rejoice, I just choke down the medicine. Then I say, “I’m home alone, I should read the bible. Maybe some psalms and just enjoy the poetry of it.”
My rebellious spirit says “That’s so much effort! I’m sick here! Just leave me alone, turn on Mythbusters instead.”
Suddenly the distance from the couch to the bookshelf (all of ten feet) looks like a football field crawling with linebackers just waiting to take me down. The remote, on the other hand, is within arm’s reach. So I make a deal with my rebellious spirit. “We’ll watch some documentaries about the ancient near east and the life of Christ.”
Well my rebellious spirit fell asleep about ten minutes in.
Now none of this is really a big deal. I was sick after all and spent two straight days resigned to the comfort of my couch. But the thing about disobedience is that it’s easy. It’s easier when I’m sick and I really don’t want to do anything at all but lay there and get better, but it’s easy every other day of the week as well. And ultimately it’s a choice, some days a really hard choice, but it’s a choice all the same. A choice I get to make for myself: will I be obedient or will I listen to the rebels?
Side note: I am in no way trying to draw parallels between my circumstances and star wars. First of all the Rebel Alliance in star wars was being obedient to God (in my opinion) and were rebelling against a tyrant who would have them enslaved (Satan). Second of all, even Darth Vader was redeemed at the end.