Today, as I was searching my library for an image for my blog, I came across some of the pictures I took during my time with Rolland and Heidi Baker’s ministry in Mozambique. Immediately my heart was filled with joy and with a longing to be back at that place. Why? Because I learned the simplicity of joy in Mozambique – and I learned it from the children.
Joy is a very profound life-giving energy in our lives and when we lose joy, life usually gets very dull. As someone who suffered from chronic depression for years, the concept of joy used to be something “out there” which I just could not fathom, and yet it was something I was longing to find in my life. I was told that joy is not the same as happiness, that joy was a decision you make and that happiness was dependent on circumstances. But no matter how much I “decided” to find joy irrespective of circumstances, I did not experience it. The issue was far deeper.
Joy is not a result of a decision you just make on the head level. Joy is deeply connected to childlikeness, and childlikeness is marked by trust. A child naturally knows how to live in the present, because that’s their whole universe. There is nothing beyond today, no worry, no care – and they don’t even know how to talk about two weeks ago or about the future. There is a wonder, a presence and awareness to what’s going on around them and they know how to live in the here and now.
One challenge we face as we grow up is that we lose our childlikeness and ability to trust. We become worry-ers. We learn to worry about the future and become future trippers. But we are told not to worry about tomorrow – tomorrow has enough issues of its own. We are given grace for one day, grace for today. The secret of joy is hidden in the restoration of our childlikeness and living in the grace of today. These are all issues of trust, and these issues are not resolved on a rational level by just ‘making a decision’. They need to be resolved on the heart level.
In one of my recent interviews with best-selling author Paul Young (The Shack) I gained more insight into the concept of living in the grace of today and the ability to experience joy. A year before Paul wrote The Shack, his business went bankrupt and he and his wife had lost everything: their business, their house, their car. As a family of six, they had to move into a tiny apartment and trust God for everything down to the next meal.
He remembers this time as one of the most joyful seasons in life. “When you live inside the grace of one day you don’t run away from joy,” Paul explained. “We are so geared to be future trippers. That’s what we do when we can’t trust, we create imaginations that don’t exist and we miss the grace that was given to us for today and we are not present in the here and now,” Paul shared. “I stopped being a future tripper and learned to be childlike and trust God to provide what I need one day at a time…”
Joy is inextricably connected to childlikeness and trust. Can you trust God that He is a good Father, that He provides what you need one day at a time? Can you let go of control and trust that God will do what he said he would do? Can you live in the grace of today and lay down the worry about tomorrow?
Joy is a key I have discovered in all great leaders I have met and interviewed over the past couple of years. They have joy not because they have nothing to worry about, but because they have learned to trust, to live in the grace of today, to enjoy the simple things of today that can easily be missed, and to be fully present in the here and now.
And then I’m back to the children in Mozambique. They enjoy the simple things of each day and their joy is contagious. If they get ‘chicken’ today, they are happy. If they just get rice and beans today, they are happy. They are happy with so little – and they enjoy the little so much.
I want to encourage you today to live in the grace of today and to see the wonder of the simple blessings around you. Enjoy what you have today – whether it’s little or much – and if you do that, joy will multiply.
You can be practical by taking a notebook or piece of paper and write down all the things you have today: starting from shelter, housing, food, health, relationships, a job, you name it…. You will see how your list of things grows from little to much, because they usually escape our awareness. And you will experience how joy multiplies. Let’s learn to live in the grace of today and let joy find a way to our hearts.
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