Monday, January 25, 2010

Protect Your Joy

I don't know about you, but there are times when I regret watching the news. While I feel a need to keep up with current events, I also feel a growing need to protect my peace and joy.

I'm not talking about the morning entertainment shows, where all three or four hosts are gabbing at the same time about the latest you-tube video. Rather, the evening news, with the depressing war statistics; almost daily "natural" disasters (what's so natural about a disaster?); and the horrendous crimes that mentally unstable people inflict upon others, especially precious innocent children.

I've even noticed that some of the national news broadcasters attempt to soften the repeated blows by ending their half-hour segment of depression with a feel-good piece. And I have to admit, it does help a little. But oftentimes, an hour after the show has aired, my blood pressure still continues to feel stuck at a number much higher than it was before I viewed the tube.

Something interesting along these lines happened a few weeks ago, while writing under deadline. Time was of such the essence, that I had to forego almost everything outside of my office, including the daily news. (Probably a good thing, since my writings are inspirational.) And, in order to finish the book proposal that I was working on, I had to have my nose in the Bible for five days straight verifying scripture verses and parables that I was referencing. And guess what? Even though I was feeling the stress of a deadline, I had incredible peace (and dare I say, joy) during each one of those 12-hour writing sessions.

And interestingly, when I finally did resume watching the evening news on the sixth day, I realized how little I had missed. The same issues were being discussed with the same pro liberal twist, along with the same negative conservative slant. The same war was being fought, and the same terrorists were up to no good.

I could say that those five days of peace were due to not watching the news and not taking into my mind and spirit the horrible happenings of the world. But we all know that ignoring the negative doesn't necessarily bring about the positive. No, the true inner peace and joy that I experienced those five days, and that I have been experiencing on a daily basis ever since I invited Jesus into my heart 21 years ago, can only happen as a direct result of knowing the Prince of Peace. I am not referring to knowing facts "about" Jesus, but truly knowing Him on a personal level. As in a "best friend" forever level. As in someone who "knows you inside out" (warts and all) and loves you anyway, level. As in a "sticking to you closer than a brother" level. And, as in a "I will always love you and never leave you" level.

While I have been blessed to have had lots of friends some of them came into my life for a short season and some came in for a simple reason. Many have come and gone, and a few have stayed through the decades. But, if I am completely honest, not one of them has been there exclusively for me, filling all of my needs (as I have not been there exclusively for them, either).

Yet, never has the Lord failed to be there for me. Never has he failed to comfort me when I was sad, or pick me up after I had been knocked down. Sure, there have been a few times when I did not sense His presence, but never has He completely forsaken me.

But I have to humbly admit, I work at this relationship. Besides being in the Word regularly to write inspirational works, my husband and I begin almost every day with a Bible study (usually at 4:15 a.m.!). Filling our mind with God's word before facing our day is like putting on a spiritual suit of armor. Only God knows the daggers that are going to be thrown at us each day, so it makes sense to turn to Him for protection.

After seeing the difference it has made in my peace and joy level by saturating my mind with the Word and not taking in the biased and depressing news, I've come up with the perfect antidote, for those times when I do watch the news. Besides watching Wheel of Fortune afterwards :-), I put Philippians 4:6 into action: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. I say a quick prayer over what it was that troubled me.

And another personal favorite scripture verse for these stress-filled times is: He keeps in perfect peace all who trust in Him, all whose thoughts are fixed on Him! (Isaiah 26:3 )

May His peace be with you, too,
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