I am a bit strange at times.
Oftentimes I think of the numerous tasks we do each day that seem to be a waste of time. Let’s see… it takes 30 minutes to get ready which includes showering, brushing my teeth, putting on deodorant (probably not a waste of time), and going to the bathroom. Then, there is eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And before you comment, yes, I know dinner is beneficial as it gives me time to connect with my family. But for me, I wonder how much more time I would have if I just didn’t have to do these daily tasks that seem to produce no tangible fruit. I mean I don’t sit back and think, “Wow, I took a shower today. Check. I brushed my teeth. Accomplished that task!” However, I do so with other items that I think are valuable in my mind. Time to chat with my wife. Connect with my kids. Read God’s Word. I value these things so I do them each day with joy and anticipation.
I think the problem is that I want to get to the end product rather than go through the process. It is the process that seems to be a waste of time. I want to look nice. I want to smell nice. I want to feel nourished. I don’t want black teeth. I just want to skip the preparation time and get to the finished product. Yet, the process is so necessary to the finished product. So, in that sense, it is productive.
I think we oftentimes approach the Christian life in this way. We don’t want the process we just want the finished product. I want to be spiritually mature but I don’t want to wrestle in prayer. I want to have intimacy with God but I don’t want to carve out more time to cultivate it. I want to get rid of that sin but I don’t want to open up to someone about it. If we want the end result, it requires investing in the process.
This is especially true with joy. I talk to so many people that want to be joyous but are not. They are grumpy at work, short with their kids, frustrated at life and irritated by neighbors. Yes, I have been there. In fact, I had a moment this morning. I was tired and preferred to do nothing but responsibilities called. I looked at my day and did not want to do it. However, I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday. Loved it. My spirit was light. I was in a good mood. I joked. I encouraged. I was joyous. Why didn’t it just spill over to today?
In John 16:24, Jesus says,
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
These are some of the final words he shared before the cross when his own joy would be challenged. It is interesting that joy is linked to our need to request it. We have to ask for it. It doesn’t simply happen. It is a gift from God to us.
Joy doesn’t spill over from one day to the next. We can’t bank it for tomorrow. We have to ask God to give it to us. The asking is the process towards the result. It is like showering in order to be clean. It is like brushing our teeth to have a nice white smile. We ask in order to have joy. Yet, the benefit with this process unlike our more “mundane tasks” is that the process itself nurtures dependence and intimacy with God. This is most likely the reason He requires that we ask for it. It draws us near to Him. So, this morning, before my grumpiness overtook me, I quieted my heart and asked for joy. It came. Yes, the process is worth it.