I am a thief.
This is difficult for me to admit to myself, let alone to anyone else. I’m not the only one that knows it. I don’t want to be. I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it. It feels constricting, suffocating and like I want to die.
No, I don’t really want to die… the point is that being stuck is debilitating and it robs you of joy, peace, happiness and all the good things of life. I don’t like being robbed. Especially, of the things in life which give it the most meaning and purpose.
I am a sarcastic, cynical and somewhat cantankerous human being. This makes it difficult to be around me sometimes. It is an interesting scenario, being robbed of your joy, because it causes you to rob others of their joy as well. You become a thief. I don’t like being a thief even more than I like being robbed by one. The other day, I came to the realization that it is time to check myself before wrecking myself. It is time for me to get a handle on my inner child and find what has robbed me of my joy, my peace, my happiness and my tranquility and serenity so I can stop robbing those around me.
I am a straight-forward kind of dude and I don’t put much stock in the whole life-force/energy thing we each have. However, I have seen firsthand how we can rob each other of joy, happiness and peace. I have been a thief of those things. When our personal experience is missing those them, we will rob others to of them in order to have them in our lives. Sometimes it is on purpose and other times it is unintentional. But it happens. I have done it… recently.
As humans, we grapple at anything that can/will fill the various holes we feel in our lives. At our core, we are fallen, sinful creatures who have selfishly rebelled against our God and creator; so it makes sense we would rob others of their joy in a feeble attempt to find joy for ourselves. The problem is, your joy can not and will not ever be my joy. Your joy can not and will not ever fill the hole in my life needing to be filled by joy.
And so, I selfishly attempt to find my joy by robbing you of yours and as a result leave a swath of pain, hurt and broken relationships because of my selfish attempt to fill the hole in my soul. I’m not the only one. Many of us do it. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it. At this very moment, I sit on the back patio of a lake house in North Carolina praying to God to find my joy… more specifically that he will be my joy. That God will re-orient my heart and my mind to him. That he will renew them into something new focus on him, his glory and his kingdom and not be focused on my selfish, sinful self. As I sit here, I feel very convicted of how I have allowed Satan a foothold in my life, a foothold of sarcasm and discontent (sarcasm isn’t inherently sinful, it easily leads down the path to the dark side though). I ask God to renew a right spirit within me, his spirit within me to be a man, a husband and a father, after his own heart. I ask for my joy and peace and excitement for life to be restored.
I am sitting at a lake house on the men’s retreat for my church. I came on this retreat with the sole purpose of getting my joy back, getting my focus back. Of remembering who I am before God and how he expects me to live and lead those he has trusted me with. On Sunday, we started a new series of sermons on the parables and we began with the parable of the sower. As I am reading and studying that passage this week, I find I have become the thorny soil. I have a solid foundation and root system in Jesus Christ, yet I have allowed the worry of life to choke out my walk with Christ. I have allowed other things to distract me from my Savior. I have become distracted. I have become like Peter as he stepped out of the boat to walk on the water… afraid, unfocused and distracted. I love Peter. 12 dudes in the boat and he was the only with the balls to get out on the water and walk towards Jesus. 11 dudes in the garden and this joker was the only one who pulls out a sword and says, ‘If you want Jesus, you have to go through me!’ Neither time did any of the others dudes make an outward sign of moment towards Jesus. Peter was impetuous and premature. But at least he did something. He was crippled by fear… not until later, when he denied Jesus 3 times. Which sort of brings us full circle on Peter. While being singularly focused, he was also distracted and unfocused. I am Peter and Peter is me.
They say the first step to fixing the problem is to admit there is a problem. I have a problem. I have become distracted and unfocused and allowed God to be shifted from the center of my life and as a result I have become a thief. As I have lost my joy, I have robbed others of theirs in a feeble attempt to have it for myself.
God, un-distract me.
Focus me on you once again.
Re-orient my life around you.
Renew my first love.
Become my joy again.