I was getting on a shuttle bus outside of KCI a couple years ago. My hunt in Idaho was over, and I was trying to remember which parking lot my truck was parked in. I was carrying a pack frame, a back pack, clothes bag, and a bow case. (It was obvious I was not coming home from Vegas) Another guy got on the shuttle carrying an army bag stuffed with an inflatable raft, a pack frame, a clothes bag, and a gun case. We looked at each other and smiled. “This is my kind of guy”, I thought. After introductions were made, the hunting stories started. His buddy (not currently with him), had flown all the way to Alaska to hunt moose and bear…to discover he forgot to pack the bolt to his .300 Mag. “Pretty expensive club.”, I remarked.
I remember walking along a fence line to get to my treestand a couple November’s ago. As I got close to right area, confusion set in because I couldn’t find my treestand. Apparently, the deer in the area had come across some wrenches and opposing thumbs, and took my treestand down and disposed of it.
Waterproof boots work really well until they get wet on the inside. Sitting on a log in the middle of the forest wringing out your socks makes for a long day.
Coming to full draw with an elk broadside to you is a beautiful and wonderful feeling. Knowing how hard and difficult it is to get to this position…makes the little twig that deflected the arrow…all the more arduous.
My elk hunting partner has many phrases he uses with regularity. This one is my favorite, “When we bugle for Elk…and one answers us…that is the first step in 500 things that will probably go wrong…and we won’t get a shot.”
As a redeemed person, one who is truly thankful for Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, I need to keep the joy pulsing inside of me. The Bible says in 1 Chronicles 16: 32-34 , “Let the sea roar, and all it contains; Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the LORD; For He is coming to judge the earth. O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Most of the passages which talk about JOY seem to paint this picture of exultation. I see hands in the air, raised voices, and expressions of devoted happiness. Look at this passage from Ezra 3: 11-13, “They sang, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.”
Now that’s happy…!
But is that realistic…? Can we always be ‘that guy’ with his hands in the air shouting praises to heaven? Honestly, life is a series of events…in which ‘500 things’ can go wrong in an attempt to ruin our day. The opposite of joy is bitterness.
Our joy is our faith. They are linked in such a way…that they are hard to define independent of each other. It may be easy to say that joy is a result of our faith, but this only scratches the surface. The ‘shield of faith’ is also a ‘shield of joy’…the assurance of things not seen…bubbles under the surface of our psyche…and permeates into our everyday attitude of the ‘500 things’ which are going wrong. Our reactions to stolen treestands and unseen twigs show our faith…our cup runneth over…with the joy of our salvation.
Matthew 13:44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
That is faith. Can you see the clandestine effort going on here…? His joy wasn’t shouting and hand waving…it was quiet and calculating. It moved him to action. Faith and joy, Joy and faith…all part of the same thing. When we walk this road of life and wade through the ‘500 things’…the quiet assurance we have inside is joy. When the rain is falling and we are sloshing through the mud and our waterproof boots become buckets which ‘hold’ water…we can still smile because of the peace inside of us. The fullness we feel in Christ…on the darkest days…when the lightening bolts are falling…when the ‘500 things’ have the upper hand…is evidence of our faith, our peace, our joy.
Philippians 2:1-3 says, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”
When we let our joy become complete, we are validating the encouragement found in a life dedicated to God’s service. We are living in fellowship with the Spirit, with affection and compassion, maintaining a sacrificial love and united in one purpose. The purpose is to further the advance of God’s kingdom. When we consider the needs of others more important than ours we are emulating the life of Christ Himself. The joy we feel is the knowledge and understanding that God is sovereign…He is in control…no matter what.
Rough days are ahead, we have all had rough days behind…the ‘500 things’ are always present. Our frustration levels should always be zero…not escalating. God is in control…He’s got it…let the testing come and prepare yourselves to respond with the faith, peace, and joy that is inside of you.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD,
You surround him with favor as with a shield. Psalm 5: 11-12