Looking for Ways to Cultivate Joy

From Pixaby

     I am cutting long stems of thyme from my herb garden and hanging it to dry. It’s October and temperatures already drop into the 30s at night in the mountains where I live, but not low enough for a freeze yet.

It’s time to harvest. But I can only harvest what has been planted and cultivated. Summer’s fresh herb garden will yield dried herbs for winter.

     From my garden I not only harvest the herbs and vegetables I plant but joy. Why is my garden a source of joy? I have chosen elements that create this atmosphere of joy, in a sense planted to harvest joy. I string lights across the backyard that add delight by night and during the day the hummingbird feeders hanging from the strands attract the little birds that were born to entertain. There are two firepits and lots of my favorite Adirondack chairs arranged for conversations.

     In the dictionary joy is described as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: delight.” (merriam-webster.com)

     I am learning to sow for joy, so I might reap it. I mentioned my summer garden, now I am looking at winter. What might I plant and cultivate that will bring joy throughout the cold and dreary months of winter?

     This delight, emotion evoked by well-being, is not something I often pursue. But more and more I see its value. It brings a smile to my face, it eases the stress of daily demands, it changes my perspective.

     Delight comes in many forms. It may be curling up in a chair with a good book, playing a round of golf, hiking a mountain trail, or baking a chocolate cake. It’s good to gather what we need for these times, look for opportunities and take pleasure in them.  

     Sometimes as Christians we begin to feel guilty about seeking simple pleasures, for it seems we are not dying out to self. Are these pleasures selfish? Is this not the wrong kind of joy?

In addition to physical joy, there is spiritual joy. It is a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is agape love, and you know you are walking in this love if you possess joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is a package, and the fruit is produced by yielding to the Spirit writes Chuck Smith in his book titled “Love the More Excellent Way.”

     Joy is a result of being in love with the Lord. Smith describes it as a consciousness of His greatness, majesty, and undying love for us which results in great joy.

     The joy of the Lord is knowing that God will use everything for our good. [Romans 8:38]. Often, we get news the world labels “bad.” I have a few of those “bad news” prayer requests right now. They have to do with medical procedures scheduled for heart conditions and court dates scheduled for legal issues. As I wrote in the text exchange “Don’t know all that is in store but know God only does good things.”

     Nehemiah writes that the joy of the Lord is our strength and that is evident in those “good”-“bad” situations. For those in Christ the outcome is in the hands of the Lord, and it will be good no matter how it looks to the world or even us.

     But I am grateful for the joy that is triggered by the delight of life. The hummingbirds that surround my feeders in the summer, paddling across a mountain lake in my kayak, standing at the edge of the ocean with the waves washing over my feet. These moments bless me. And so I will plant and cultivate joy just as I do the herbs and vegetables in my garden so it will be ready to harvest. Cultivate joy not only for myself, but for others. We are certainly blessed when we find ways to bring delight.  

Let’s Talk:

1-What ways do you cultivate joy in your life? Keeping all your “go to” ingredients for baking in the cupboard or craft supplies on hand; taking photographs or painting pictures; creative writing in a coffeehouse with a cappuccino?

2-In what ways to you like to delight others?

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