Joy and peace are fruits of the Holy Spirit. When we, children of God, lose our joy and peace, it can often be traced back to a certain place in which we gradually got our eyes off of the Lord. This recently happened to me. As I have mentioned before, God has been taking me through a healing journey of peeling back the "layers" of my heart. I often compare this process to that of peeling back layers of an onion; when you pull one layer back, another is exposed. Deep layers of insecurity and fear have been exposed and my eyes opened. I am now "walking out" the deep truths that God has shown me: that I am secure IN HIM and that I CAN trust His heart towards me. How do I walk this out? Well, the Lord gives me "exercises" in which I can practice. These exercises can be painful yet, just like physical exercise, will prove to be for my good.
Recently, I was in a certain situation in which insecurity reared it's ugly head. My first thought was to counteract that fear with a scripture. I did. I had victory over the trap that was set before me. I felt strengthened. Satan hated that God had the victory in what in the past was an easy score. A few days passed and Satan had a plan to hit me again, only with more force. It was a time when I was physically tired and was frankly caught off guard. Now, I want to remind us all that the Bible warns us to be alert and watchful because our enemy wants to devour us. (Ephesians 6) However, I was too busy looking at myself to notice that the enemy was gaining ground. Next thing I knew, another temptation passed by and I took the bait. I let an insecure thought have it's way in my mind. Then I acted upon it; I agreed with the lie that I needed to be afraid. Within hours my whole attitude had changed. I was looking at other people and comparing myself with them. I felt an urge to try to control situations in order to "make sure" that I wouldn't get hurt, etc. Wow! What happened? I went from joy, peace, and security to being an emotional mess. I asked God to show me what was going on. Why I am falling back into this trap of insecurity?
It was in my quiet time that God shined His light onto this situation. He led me to Psalms 73. I want to share a little background with you. This Psalm was written by Asaph, a temple choir leader. Asaph had let his focus fall on people. He started comparing their lives with his life. He wondered why it appeared things were much better for others; how they seemed to have it all together while not even honoring God. Then he began to question his walk with God. It wasn't until He put his focus back on God ( where it should have been in the first place) that the truth won out and he felt secure once again. Listen as He turns to God and pours out his heart in verses 21-26:
THEN I REALIZED THAT MY HEART WAS BITTER, AND I WAS ALL TORN UP INSIDE. I WAS SO FOOLISH AND IGNORANT- I MUST HAVE SEEMED LIKE A SENSELESS ANIMAL TO YOU. YET I STILL BELONG TO YOU; YOU HOLD MY RIGHT HAND. YOU GUIDE ME WITH YOUR COUNSEL, LEADING ME TO A GLORIOUS DESTINY. WHOM HAVE I IN HEAVEN BUT YOU? I DESIRE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING ON EARTH. MY HEALTH MAY FAIL, AND MY SPIRIT MAY GROW WEAK, BUT GOD REMAINS THE STRENGTH OF MY HEART; HE IS MINE FOREVER.
Wow! That was me! I had inadvertently gotten my focus off of God and back on me. When this happens, I tend to fight God for control of my life. I find myself trying to "take care" of my own situations and protect myself. I traded joy and peace for fear and control. Bad trade!
I want to encourage you to be a fruit inspector today; inspect your spiritual fruit. Do you have love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control? If not, check your focus. Are you focusing on God and His Word or is your focus on others, the world, or your fears? When your focus is off of God, you are just one thought away from defeat.