Emotions change. So how do we hold onto joy??

Written by: Vivian Wilson

I just spent three days in a little corner of heaven.

I have been home now for about an hour.

I am sitting in my chair, the chair that I sit in every morning when I spend time with God.

It is quiet, except for the occasional gust of a cold north wind. I am feeling an emptiness in my soul; “something” is missing. That “something” is the amazing
fullness of joy that I have felt for three days.

I WANT IT BACK!

The piece of heaven sits on a few acres, on which several significant buildings stand: an inn, a conference room, a dining hall, and a chapel. This is a place where 35 women, who for the most part did not know each other, came to experience spiritual renewal, along with a team of 45 (mostly women, and a few men) came to serve them.
I was one who came to serve. I was able to meet and talk with all of the women, but I spent most of my time with five of them, in particular. We sat together during the planned disciplines of the “Walk to Emmaus”.  I got to know these precious women, and to love them. We laughed together (A LOT); we cried together; we shared our fears, joys, sorrows, and pain openly and honestly.
In three short days I learned to really care for these women.
I like who they are and I love them.
Then, the “walk” was over. It was time to go back to the reality of our lives. It was time to go back to our families, our jobs, the situations and circumstances from which we had enjoyed a 72-hour reprieve.
As I drove home, the “feeling” began to fade. Why? How can I get it back?
So here I am, contemplating these questions.
What I felt in that place was real, and what I am feeling now is real.
OK.
So I’ve “slept on it”.
I have been blessed to have two extraordinary, “over the top” experiences of feeling love and joy within a month. I could definitely get used to this!
What I am talking about are emotions. Emotions change. We don’t get to choose one we like, turn it on, and bask in it forever. When my joy began to fade last night, it was because part of the reason I felt it was gone.
The amazing joy I felt in those 72 hours was because I was in God’s presence, and my focus was not on me. My focus was on Him, and how I could best love and serve my precious new friends.
God’s joy is ALWAYS available. I CAN HAVE IT – anytime. anyplace.
In the book of John, he writes in chapter 15, verses 9-12:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
How do we love the Lord?  Mark tells us in chapter 12, verses 29-30:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbors as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
This takes conscious effort on my part.
My heart and soul is my breath, my vitality my spirit, my emotions.
My mind is to entertain deep thought.  My strength is my ability, might, and power.
So, if you are still with me, here is what I learned.
Joy comes from loving God with all that I am. It comes when I completely surrender everything, emptying myself so that He can fill me with His Spirit who gives me an attitude that seeks to put all others before myself. This is what enables me to receive the gifts of love and joy that come through those precious ones that God puts in my life. These feelings are truly gifts, and should be enjoyed, savored, cherished, and treasured.
Even though we can’t “dial up” the desired emotion, I believe that God’s Word teaches us that the more we grow to love Him and others as He commanded, the more time we will spend in bliss.
In short, we can spend more time in a little corner of heaven. I don’t know about you, but for me that is a goal worthy of practice and more effort on my part to obey the greatest commandment.
In Christ’s Love,
Vivian