Finding Joy In Who You Are

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Do you remember that question?  Perhaps you’re still waiting to grow up and figure out the answer to that question.  Or maybe you’ve grown up and you’re living your dream.  But more likely, if you’re like me and many others, when you evaluate who you are today, reality hasn’t fully matched your dreams.  Our answers at six, twelve, eighteen, and even twenty-five and beyond rarely take into account all that life will bring our way.

Unfortunately, most of our answers to the “what do you want to be” question rarely answer the question that ought to be asked.  We hear the question and our answers invariably sound like we heard, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  I don’t know what your answers have been over the years, but perhaps some of these sound familiar:  I want to be a policeman, a fireman, a nurse, a teacher, a farmer, a doctor, a builder, an astronaut, a mechanic, a business owner, or a whatever else we hope to do.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone answer the question of what they want to be by saying they want to be kind, loving, compassionate, honest, forgiving, joyful, content, fair, generous, peaceful, patient, gentle, or any other attribute that expresses the presence of God’s Spirit dwelling within us.

Yes, what we do can be a gift from God, who has in advance created good works for us to do.  But if our identity is fully formed around what we do, what happens when we can no longer do?  What happens if we can never do what we’ve dreamed of?  To find joy with who we are, we must move beyond what we can do and develop the deeper traits of who we can be.  One of the most difficult things in life, at least for me, is to find joy in being when the world says my doing doesn’t measure up.  Sometimes I think we, as a society, have worked so hard for equality that we’ve failed to see the dark side that often lingers with it.  Treating people without partiality is a good thing — and a God-commanded thing.  But that is not the same as believing everyone should fit into the same mold in order to be equal.  Yes, we should constantly strive to do all the good that we can do and work toward giving everyone the opportunity to do all the good that they can do.  But we should work harder at being content with who we are and helping others find joy in who they are regardless of what any of us are able to do.

So, how do you and I find joy in who we are?  We begin by believing what God says about who we are.  When we wrap our identity around being God’s child and allow our sense of value to come from His love for us, what we can and cannot do becomes less important compared to who we are and and who we can be in Christ.  Remember that list from paragraph two of what many people want to be (do) when they grow up?  My daughter, who is now twenty-seven years old, will never be any of those things — at least not in an official way, short of a miraculous intervention from God.  Yes, she teaches me more than just about anyone else, so you could say she’s a teacher — but not in the sense it is used when answering the question about growing up.  Yet she has great joy in who she is, and I have great joy in who she is, because her life is wrapped around her identity in Christ and is focused on being the things that we all ought to strive for — the things I mentioned earlier that I said I never hear in response to the question of what we want to be.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Susan.  I want to be one that finds joy in who I am — a joy that the world can’t take away, a joy that is not dependent on my abilities measuring up to the expectations of others but is solely dependent on being who God created me to be.  I pray that God fills you with His Spirit so that you overflow with joy simply because you are His.

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Joy In Being!

A NOTE of Joy – Philippians 4

 

Audio recording of a sermon from my series through Philippians.

(Note: The recording did not start until the sermon was well under way so you’ll miss the introduction and reading of the chapter as the audio begins early in the first point of the message.)

Need of Joy.

An Opportunity of Joy.

A Teaching of Joy.

An Expression of Joy

An ACT of Joy – Philippians 3

 

Audio recording of a sermon from my series through Philippians.

An Attitude of Joy.

A Commitment of Joy.

A Treasure of Joy.

A Precious Gift

Happy Birthday Susan!

Happy Birthday Susan!

Today is a day
     that we celebrate.
The birth of a girl
     who really is great!
It’s not always easy,
     but so worth the price.
To be given a gift 

     that’s so very nice!

She came at a moment,
     just stepped out in time.
We all had each other,
     but barely a dime.
From the beginning,
     she was daddy’s girl.
With a smile so big,
     any heart would unfurl.

I owe her my life,
     and oh, so much more.
She gave me purpose,
     which had gone out the door.
In the midst of great sickness
     I learned to press on.
There are so many walks
     on which we have gone.

Some say she’s different,
     I suppose that is so.
For she’s filled with joy,
     more than anyone I know!
She’s an angel from heaven —
     at least in a way.
With a message from God
     that she shares every day.

She longs for heaven
     and it’s really not odd.
She teaches me much
     about talking with God.
If you should wonder,
     what her joy is about.
God’s presence is with her,
     of that there’s no doubt.

The labels are plenty
     to describe what she’s got.
But to describe her,
     those labels do not!
CP and autism,
     with seizures not few.
May be what she has,
     but they don’t define who.

A child of the King,
     a joy to mankind.
A sweeter person,
     you never will find.
There’s no fake about her,
     no motives to hide.
What you see on her face
     is what is inside.

Throughout the years,
     we have been told.
Prepare for the worst,
     she won’t get this old.
Perhaps a few weeks,
     even years may be seen.
But it’s not very likely
     to go beyond teen.

And so here we are,
     at twenty-six years old!
A gift straight from God
     that’s still ours to hold!
I don’t take it for granted,
     I thank God every day.
That He loved us so much
     to send Susan our way.

She’s not really ours,
     she is simply on loan.
And it’s a great privilege
     to give her a home.
How long she will be here,
     I really don’t know.
She longs for heaven
     and is ready to go.

As I sit in a hotel
     on this, her birthday.
Alone in a room
     many miles away.
I wake up early
     to spend time in prayer.
And God gives me this poem
     that I now share.

© 2015 by Tom Lemler

We celebrated Susan’s birthday Sunday as I was headed out Monday morning for the North American Christian Convention. As I woke up early this morning and was spending time with God, He put this poem in my mind about Susan. I pray that she has a great day and continues to be a joy and blessing to others as she is to MJ and I.

In prayer,
Tom

Joy of a Child

There is something special
     about joy in a child.
Even when that joy
     may seem a bit wild!
To have a small part
     in a child having fun.
To hear them laugh
     as they play and run.
At least for the moment,
     they have no care.
Until one of their friends
     forgets they should share. 

They played in a bounce house
     and walked for some cake.
Sword fought with balloons,
     until they did break.
They ate lots of cookies
     and sugary snacks.
Even some popcorn,
     eaten out of the sacks.
No one was worried,
     it was a safe place.
The children lined up
     for a painted face! 

It was a reminder
     from each girl and boy.
When God’s love is in us,
     we should live with joy!
We all need some time
     in our busy life.
To put down the shield
     and avoid all the strife.
To hang out together
     and rest in the Son.
Set worries aside,
     and just have some fun. 

I know it sounds easy,
     but harder to do.
To let down my guard,
     enjoy being with you.
The longer we live,
     the more baggage we bring.
The weight of it all,
     makes it harder to sing.
God’s song becomes muffled
     when we fail to rest.
Then the message we share,
     really isn’t our best. 

So what can you do
     when joy seems to be lost?
Will you boldly seek it
     no matter the cost?
Will you see yourself clearly
     from God’s point of view?
And play like a child,
     as He watches you.
God longs for His children
     to feel safe and sound.
To know when they seek Him,
     He’ll always be found. 

Will I live my life fully,
     with my joy found in God?
And sing His praise loudly,
   even if I’m thought odd?
Will I feast on His goodness
     and incredible grace?
Will I give it my all
     as I finish this race?
I pray that we find it,
     that joy of a child.
And live boldly for God,
     even if we’re thought wild! 

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

I spent the evening making balloon creations for the Michiana Christian School Fun Fair and Open House.  While my fingers may tell a different story from tying so many balloons, it was a great evening of watching pure joy in the lives of children.  It always amazes me to see children line up and patiently wait to have a balloon made into some basic creation (because I’m not all that good at it and am very limited in what I can make).  It didn’t matter that many would ask for something I couldn’t do — their face was filled with joy when I handed them what I could make.  As I continued to make these balloon creations and pray for the children who were coming to me, God put this poem in my mind.  He also began asking me about my level of contentment and joy.  Am I not only satisfied, but filled with joy at the gift that God does give me?  I pray that this poem encourages you to be filled with the joy of a child.

In prayer,
Tom

Childhood Joy

Some time ago
     when I was a boy.
The simplest things
     would bring me great joy.
It didn’t take much
     to fill up my time.
I’d work on the farm
     or play in the slime.
It didn’t matter
     if work or if play.
Being a family
     had value each day.

We did not have much
     but we had each other.
My brothers and sister,
     my dad and my mother.
We worked really hard,
     we played just the same.
We even decided
     chores could be a game.
The things that we lacked,
     I could not even tell.
We had what we needed,
     we really lived well.

The things that we had
     that many did lack.
Was a house full of love
     and even some slack.
I always had value,
     even when I did wrong.
In my own family
     I would always belong.
I cannot imagine
     how different I’d feel.
If my growing up
     was anything but real.

Now I fast-forward
     through quite a few years.
Years full of blessing
     and even some tears.
And while I am wiser
     or older, at least.
Sometimes the joy’s gone,
     eaten up by the beast.
You may never see it
     but the beast is out there.
Stealing contentment,
     thinking no one will care.

I’m not all that different
     from days long ago.
Joy fills my life
     through the people I know.
The value they give me
     by what they do say.
Is the mark of a good friend,
     in work and in play.
I pray that these lessons,
     I learned as a boy.
Would lead to contentment
     and fill you with joy.
©

As I was spending time with God, reflecting on joy and contentment, He reminded me that I often look for both of those in all the wrong places. We are often taught in so many ways that the stuff we accumulate should bring us great joy. When joy doesn’t come we may decide we simply need more stuff. God took me back to my childhood that was filled with great joy even though we didn’t have a lot of possessions. It is a lesson I need to be reminded of often and I pray that it is a reminder that is helpful to you.

In prayer,
Tom