Recipe for Rejoicing

Reading in Luke 15 this morning and the word “rejoicing” exploded off the page.

Luke 15:5

And when he has found [the lost sheep], he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.”

I couldn’t help but hold this mirror up to my own life. When my kids (or dogs) do things that make my life more complicated or difficult, when they either accidentally or willfully create a situation that will throw off my rhythm or plans I am apt to get frustrated, to become impatient and to make it clear that I am decidedly unhappy with what is happening.

What I don’t tend to do, that God seems to do every time, is to rejoice when I am enlisted into their incidents and accidents.

I don’t want to clean up another mess, I don’t want to search for another shoe, I don’t want to deal with something I’m not prepared for. And in such a profound way it seems that I am never less like God than when I am unwilling to celebrate the opportunity to help rescue a moment or to find something that is lost. 

• I might tolerate it, but I am not rejoicing over it.

• I might be relieved after it’s done, but I’m not rejoicing in the aftermath.

• I might be willing to get up and go do it with a martyr-mentality, but I’m not calling all my friends so we can rejoice together in the resolution.

And here is the question that haunts me as I sit with this text: what exactly is it in my own life that is so important that it would keep me from rejoicing in a moment that God chooses to rejoice? If the eternally perfect God, if the sovereign Creator of the entirety of all that there is sees a need for rejoicing in these moments, what’s going on in my life that keeps me holding this celebration at arm’s length?

And the longer I mediate on this text the more I believe the antidote for my own struggle to rejoice is to see that the Father, the Shepherd, the Searcher is rejoicing over me.

I was the lost sheep.

I was the one who ran away.

I was the one who made the Shepherd’s life more frustrating.

Not someone else somewhere “out there,” but me, right here.

And He rejoiced, and rejoices over me. Not because I was perfect, but because I was found.

• Maybe the longer we sit in the reality of the grace we have been shown the more apt we are to show that same kind of grace.

• If I could believe this text about myself, I would be able to believe it about others as well.

• God’s love is so invested in our lives that He would rather be inconvenienced, and even beaten, stripped and crucified, than let us remain lost without a way home.

And maybe realizing this truth is the doorway to perpetual rejoicing: 

the Good Shepherd didn’t get angry at me, He came looking for me.

And after He found me He didn’t keep in secret what I’d done or where I’d been, He called all of His friends and said, “he’s home…he’s finally home…I’ve already been rejoicing, now let’s celebrate together!”

How much different will I treat people if I believe that the Father is rejoicing over my life?

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