Choosing joy



June 1, 2012, 8:57 AM

I checked the local weather report at 3 o’clock yesterday so that I would know what perfection looked like in digits. The meteorologist said 79 degrees with 34 percent humidity. Bottle that, please.

The windows were all flung open and a breeze was ruffling the sheers ever so gently. The cat was dozing on the windowsill. My father was out in the backyard adjusting his netting over the sun-soaked blueberry plants. Brahms’ “Violin Concerto in D” was wafting through my house, and my daughter had just put a pizza in the oven for us: The toppings were roasted eggplant, summer squash, mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, green peppers, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, gruyere, and aged cheddar, on a homemade whole wheat crust.

And my husband loves me.

It occurred to me that this indeed was about as perfect a day as they come. Imagine my alarm, then, to have realized that even in the midst of perfection, the tendency of my soul was to find a cause to be anxious—that is, to refuse joy.

The suggestion seemed ludicrous: Who in his right mind would refuse joy? If one is lacking in joy it must be for some reasonable cause, right? Not at all, friends. I find that if there is no objective cause for worry, my carnal mind will cast around until it alights on one. The natural man finds no rest unless it finds something to fret about. It is almost as if we are not happy unless we are worried and unless we have some matter we are actively and perversely trying to control. Yes, I think that’s it! The desire to be in control. Conversely, it is the refusal to release control to God.

This, as I said, is carnal. But Paul, in the Spirit, tells us that we are not to be “carnal,” not to be “mere humans” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). We are to be better than that. We are spiritual people.

So then, if joy and contentment do not come automatically, even on 79 degree, 34 percent humidity days, we must fight for it. We must resist the automatic (the carnal) and choose to operate in the spiritual. We must choose joy. We must, if necessary, say out loud to ourselves and to God that we will rejoice in Him today.

I believe this is what a good half of the Psalms are about.