I have been thinking a lot of long and somewhat disjointed thoughts lately. Many of them have been on the subject of joy - what it means to live joyfully and to have the joy of the Lord as my strength.

I am frequently a happy person, but lately I've found myself thinking and living in a way that is far from joyful. I don't want that. I want my joy back.

I'm not sure if I've managed to grasp just how imperative the joy of the Lord is to my life as a Christ follower, but I know that it's very, very important. I know that my deep, unfailing joy, regardless of circumstances, should indicate to the world that I'm a part of something special. I know that my closeness to, and utter dependence upon, God should bring me joy, and that this joy should, in its turn, draw me into a deeper relationship with God. I am fully aware that I have never experienced true joy unless I was in the presence of God.

Basically, I've concluded that my lack of joy and my lack of closeness to God are inseparably linked, and that to have one is to have the other. I want both joy and closeness. And I want them desperately.

How to share all of this with you?

I decided to just give you a snapshot of what my devotion time looks like as God talks to me on the subject of joy. Since my frenzied, late-night scribblings in my Bible margins are usually difficult to read, I typed all of this out for you. You should feel very grateful for this consideration on my part. The formatting took a long time.

It should be fairly obvious where David's writing ends and mine begins, but I put all of my writing in italics, just to help you out. I also underlined and highlighted some stuff.

Psalm 32
                                                            Christians should be the most joyful people. Why do we let Satan steal our 
The Joy of Forgiveness      joy? The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10) - without this joy, we are                                                                 weak.                                                                                                                      
How joyful is the one
whose transgression is forgiven,        Do I live and remain in this joy? Lord, show me how to remain in
whose sin is covered!                              Your joy.
How joyful is the man                           God has sought and saved ME. That is reason enough for 
the LORD does not charge with sin         constant rejoicing! Why do I so often forget?
And in whose spirit is no deceit!

When I kept silent, my bones became brittle      
from my groaning all day long.                          
For day and night Your hand was heavy on me;   <  I can relate to that!
my strength was drained                                    
as in summer's heat.                                          
Then I acknowledged my sin to You
and did not conceal my iniquity.
I said,
"I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,"   < No more guilt! No more shame! Oh, the joy of it all!
and You took away the guilt of my sin.                <  Thank You!

Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You
at a time that You may be found.                           < We find God when we're desperate for Him. Lord, 
When great floodwaters come,                                 create in me a perpetual desperation for You!
they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place;
You protect me from trouble.
You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.

I will instruct you and show you the way to go;
with My eye on you, I will give counsel.                               Really
Do not be like the horse or mule,                                           Important!
without understanding,                                  
that must be controlled with bit and bridle                          
or else it will not come near you.              < Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)                                                                                                 Stubbornness will destroy my joy. 
Many pains come to the wicked,
but the one who trusts in the LORD
will have faithful love surrounding him.   < Beautiful!
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice,
you righteous ones;
shout for joy,                               < Rejoice! Rejoice! And again I say rejoice!
all you upright in heart.