Hello, fellow dreamers and creators. As we previously discussed, in order to become lean, mean, faithful “machines” who can keep on going like the Energizer Bunny, we need some serious strength training. And NOTHING makes us stronger than the “joy of the Lord.” So we now continue our discussion of the steps to getting and keeping your joy. Uh, enjoy yourselves!
- Take time to rest — and get the proper amount of sleep! Lack of sleep results in mental and physical fatigue, and fatigue (being plumb tuckered out) is one of the most common joy-killers facing people today. That’s why God created a day of rest: “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work.” (Exodus 20:8-10 NLT)
Sounds like God really means business with this; not only did our Creator make this whole rest thing one of the Ten Commandments — it’s number 5 on His list — but He also set the example for us other creators to follow: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. …Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. …On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so He rested from all His work.” (Genesis 1:1,31; 2:2 NLT)
Hey, God created you, so He knows what’s best for you. Rest and relaxation help to restore our enthusiasm and joy. (There’s that word again!) Sleep is as important as food, and yet, when it comes to catching some Z’s many of us are malnourished. And of course, no matter how dark things may appear now, they always look brighter in the morning … after a good night’s sleep: “Weeping may endure for a night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 AMP)
So, turn off the TV, close the book, get off the Internet, and go to bed at a decent hour — for the sake of your own creativity!
- Stop and smell the roses! Yes, always pursue your dreams with gusto. But remember, the path you take to reach your goals isn’t just about the destination. Be sure to enjoy the journey itself; take in the scenery along the way; laugh, play, have some fun; and nurture the curious and creative “child” within. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but depression drains one’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22 GWT)
- Develop an attitude of gratitude. This is essential if you want to keep your joy and stay strong. As pastor and author Joel Osteen states, “The seeds of discouragement cannot take root in the soil of a grateful heart.”
When you start feeling down and disheartened, don’t allow yourself to sink into depression. Instead, change your focus — from what you don’t have to what you do have. Count your blessings. You’ll be surprised how much you actually have and how much you’ve accomplished in life.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. (John Oatman, “Count Your Blessings,” 1897)
“In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP)
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV)
- Look forward, NOT backward. You may have left a trail of failures and missed opportunities behind you — but ahead of you are the promises of our faithful God and endless possibilities. Besides, all your dreams lie in that direction. Move forward, not backward; and watch where you’re going, not where you’ve been.
Keep the same joyful (and hopeful) outlook on life that the Apostle Paul maintained: “…I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead….” (Philippians 3:13 NLT)
Your past may be filled with sorrows and mistakes, but your future is bright and full of joy. In fact, God proclaims, “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ‘” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Rejoice in what the Lord is going to do in your life: “Stop being afraid…!
Rejoice and be glad, because the LORD will do great things. Stop being afraid … because the desert pastures will bloom, the trees will bear their fruit, and the fig tree and vine will deliver their wealth.” (Joel 2:21-22 ISV)
Are you beginning to feel the joy? Good, now keep it and stay strong!