Choose.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

-Matthew 6:21

I’ve recently started helping with a youth group every week.  Slowly, I’ve been able to build relationship with the students there.  There is one girl in particular that the Lord has put on my heart, we’ll call her Anna.  Now Anna professes to be a follower of Christ; she comes to church on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s, she desires to do the right thing, she’s been baptized, but the question still comes: what gives her joy?  She’s learned enough to know the difference between happiness (which is entirely of this world) and joy (which is entirely of God).  But it’s finding that joy that’s the problem.  Just the other week she said, “I just don’t know how you can get joy from God cause he isn’t here.”  Right in that moment I had nothing to tell her, no verse came to mind, no earth shattering explanation, all I could think to say was, “It’s really hard.”  But I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

How do we find joy in Christ? I know for a fact that Anna, along with the rest of the students in the youth group, live hard lives.  Her home life is not ideal, she gets picked on in school, and she moves every 2-3 years.  For a seventh grader that’s a lot to handle.  How on earth is she going to be able to find joy?  The best explanation that I’ve come up with is that in order to have joy, we must first choose it.  Our choices define us, choose joy and choose Jesus.

Now, let me clarify some things.  The Lord has done a lot of things that we have no control over.  While we were still sinners God sent His son, His one and only perfect son, to die for us (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) and the Lord chose us, making us capable of bearing fruit (John 15:16).  These things are completely out of our control.  No amount of sin could ever change what the Lord has already done and will continue to do for us.  But there is a point where we need to make a choice.

We’ve become a people completely controlled by feeling; we drink, we smoke, we do “whatever our gut tells us”.  We’ve begun to base all of our decisions on whatever feels right.  This is a slippery slope when it comes to our walk with Jesus.  There are times when we feel like we are right there at the feet of the Lord and other times it seems as if He is only a figment of our imagination.  In those dry seasons He is no less real, no less powerful, and no less sovereign.  God is not changed regardless of how we view Him.

It is really easy to follow God when we feel like it, when we’re just getting back from a church trip, or when He has just done something miraculous in our lives.  But those feelings don’t last; there will be seasons of spiritual plenty and spiritual drought.  Experiencing a season of drought does not make us bad Christians, it simply means that we need to choose to pursue God in this time.

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  First, to treasure something means “to keep carefully”, this is an action.  We don’t accidently treasure something; it takes a conscious decision to complete an action.  Much like a pirate devotes his entire life to finding that treasure, so must we devote our lives to seeking Jesus.  To experience the fullness of the treasure, we must devote every moment, every day, every year, and our entire lives to finding it.  Second, the Lord promises that when we choose to treasure something, then our heart will begin to desire it.  This can be both positive and negative.  When we treasure sin, then that is what our heart desires, but when we choose to treasure God, then after some time, that is what our heart desires.  When we treasure the joy of the Lord, our hearts will find it.  Choose Jesus and your heart won’t be far behind.

Now we have a choice.  Do we continue to live a life controlled by feeling or do we choose to live a life that is ultimately going to bring us more joy than we could ever imagine?  My challenge for myself, for you, and for Anna is to choose to chooseEvery day choose to pursue God whether you’re feeling it or not, choose to find joy in the Lord, and choose Jesus.

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