Battling for Joy

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I think the darkening of winter teaches us something important about a deep internal truth of the human condition. We all feel cold, we feel an large empty aloneness, we experience the eclipse of warmth and light and love. Harsh, harsh is the world upon the soft and supple flesh of humankind.

Amidst the dark and gloom of the winter night there are different kinds of portals we set up to remind us that beyond this there is something more profound. Stars in the night sky and pierce not only shade of night but also the shroud that gets around our heads. Fairy lights are strung up in preparations for the mass of Christ, the Light of the Word born in this harsh world. We set ups lamps and advent wreathes, and Christmas trees which glow and shimmer a warmth. And all of this is a kind of fight.

Its still Fall here in Kumamoto but the days have been getting darker. But I only reference this seasonal charade of shortening days as a kind of analogy. Its an analogy to what goes on in life and to what has been going on in my life.

Breakdown in relationships, stress, fatigue, and friction wearing on relationships still intact, the anxiety of navigating how to love one another. Is that supposed to be stressful thing? Too much work, never enough time. Setting boundaries against the narrative of slavery that wants to destroy both sabbath and sonship along with God’s image and Kingdom. I slip. I sin. Sleep comes thinner and sickness seems to spin around from head to head as it jumps on sneezes and halitosis ridden yawns.

Harsh is the world that presses heavy upon our supple flesh.

Nearby the ones I love most struggle to grasp meaning and joy. God,, Where is your God? The enemy mutters.

So I speak over my heartbroken soul,

“Take courage.

For I know my God will break through for me.”

from Psalm 42, TPT

Joy is a battle! Putting up Christmas lights, lighting a candle, clasping a mug of warm tea or soup, bringing a warm face to a downcast friend or finding a warm face for yours– these are acts war, or resistance against the onslaught of the cold, dark, drift of despair and assulting lies that say its not worth it.

Its worth it. “The Joy of the Lord is our strength.” Its the only way I have been able to find victory in this season is to fight with joy and when I don’t have it, to fight for joy. There is this profound, and wonderful truth that should undergird all of reality–God is fighting for our joy to. Jesus, crucified on the cross (“for the joy of set before him”)– He was fighting for joy. For your joy, for mine, for the joy of holy fellowship at the warmth of his table. He was fighting so we could know we are the beloved and rest on his chest, he fought to give us the cup of the covenant. Holy wow! There is joy in his presence, the fullness thereof.

To all my brave friends and fellow travelers out there going through life in this post-modern, post-industrial, overworked, 1%, bi-polarized, bickering, cold, petty, merciless, atomically armed, neo-imperialistic in both capitalist and communist iterations, (why do the nations rage in vain) world.

Peace. God is with us. There is joy in his presence. Fight to enter it, Surrender to His fight to bring you there, to infill you. Rest in it and then labor from it so your life can extend the deep and satisfying joy of being loved in God through Christ to battle-worn weary in your midst. We are all among them. And the right man is on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.

About minuiperiannath

Name: Spencer Wentland College: North Central University Year: Senior Major:Intercultural Studies My story of meeting Jesus in short: Not many weeks after I was born my parents baptized me into the Christian faith at First English Lutheran Church in my hometown, Appleton, WI. There they renewed their promises to renounce the devil and his ways, the world and evil and raise me the same way teaching me to love and fear the Lord, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creeds and when of reading age to put the Holy Bible in my hands and all the while, with the church community, instruct me in the Christian faith. My parents weren't perfect but they did fulfill the vows they made at my baptism. I had my own more personal experience with the Lord around the age of seven when I followed Jesus out of the Gospels to a "quiet, lonely place" in my backyard with the hope to do whatever Jesus did there. Without realizing it or ever being taught how to "receive Jesus into your heart" it happened quite like that even seeing a mental vision of Jesus and knowing I need to welcome him into my heart and let him sit on the throne of my life. I've never been the same since then and the Lord has kept his promise to be with me "always." I confirmed what my parents chose for me in a public confession of faith and the ritual of believer's baptism at a local swimming school where the Assemblies of God church my mom attends used to do their baptisms. I've never regretted a life with Jesus; life has always been richer, deeper and fuller because of it. About Me: Ha that's a funny question, and a popular one today. Well, if you really want to know "all about me" you will have to meet me. For starters I am hard to put in simple categories and often find myself tumbling between labels; i.e. introverted and extroverted, strong and weak, intuitive yet a rationalist, introspective and social, unique and individual yet needing people and empathetic. I belong to and am part of the Way and that is probably the most defining important part of my being. (Acts 24:14) As a God lover in the Way of Jesus Christ I long to see and embrace all things and people in his love for his glory. Creative people and places energize me. I enjoy and appreciate art and artists and like to contribute and collaborate in making my own art at times. I need my own time and spend a lot of time in contemplation- this is where I get recharged and new vision and vitality for life. A con of my personality is my ill attempts to understand everything about everything. At the same time I also get energy from others and love to be sociable. I make matrix like connections in my mind and although my comments often are perceived as random too me they are very connected to something. To me connection and harmony are very important and I believe the truth brings that out. The last few years have been filled with learning, studying and meeting wonderful people. Copenhagen, Escanaba, Nagasaki, and now back to Minneapolis! So excited to learn, grow and finish my last year at university! Call: I feel strongly called by the Lord to work and give myself as missionary of love to the Japanese people. As the Lord leads I hope to take a missionary assignment through ELCA Global Mission teaching English and serving in congregational mission and leadership in Japan. Eventually I would like to serve as an apostolic worker planting boiler rooms (missional/monastic communities) around the Japanese archipelago with a bunch of other Jesus lovers in international, incarnational bands of friends. About this blog: This blog is for my Church Administration and Personal Finance class. I'm looking forward to interesting and practical conversation and learning that will help develop my leadership and organizational skills for however and whatever takes shape out of the Lord's call.

One response »

  1. Love you Spencer

    Remember this was your calling to serve Him in Japan and keep in mind that God never intended for life on earth to be easy. Look at Jesus life and His disciples they all had a very hard life on earth.

    Dad

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