In 2000 I was working part-time in my psychotherapy practice and part-time with my church as a pastor for Spiritual formation.
I found myself restless, resentful and angry; just sort of weary. Life didn’t feel right and so I began a process of discernment to determine the problem in my soul.
The Spirit brought to mind a sermon I had heard on the radio years ago. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel fame was preaching on Leviticus or some other rather dry piece of scripture. The text was describing God’s instructions about how the priests should be clothed in linen when they were ministering in the temple. The point made by the preacher was that God wanted the priests to wear linen because God didn’t want them sweating while they were doing the work of the ministry. He went on to say that if we are doing the work of the ministry we shouldn’t be sweating. If we are doing “God’s work” and we are sweating, we need to ask whether or not the work we are doing is what God would have us do.
I asked myself, where was I sweating while I was doing the “work of God”? I realized it was in my psychotherapy practice. I dreaded going to work; I resented my clients (not a good attitude to have as a therapist). Working in my practice felt like work.
The work I was doing at the church felt like life. It gave me energy and joy. As a result of this awareness, I decided to give up my practice.
Second thing I learned is to follow my joy. True joy is the fruit of the Spirit, and can only be created by the Spirit’s activity. Love, joy, peace and the other qualities mentioned in Galatians are not ours to put on or put off, they are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s tending and guiding of our souls. Fruit is not manufactured, it is grown.
God has uniquely made you and if you follow your joy. Not your happiness, or what makes sense or what gives you relief, or what anyone else expects you to do, but your own personal joy, you will be journeying with the Spirit.
Thank you for this post. It is so evident that you are not “sweating” in your life’s work now. Thank you for the gift you give each one of us!
Thank you, Cindy.
Halelujiah!!!! What an inspiring message. I want to add a quote by Albert Einstein but the paraphrase goes loosely: followers of joy have often (maybe alwYs) been labeled heritics, he goes on to cite St. Francis etc… (omits Jesus but that is somewhat understanable) as they seek joy rather than man’s admiration, likewise as scientists,artists and poets we seek beauty and truth and it is our job to seek truth and fan the sparks of joy I others asthey seek and delightinthe beauty and truth of life, nature and God… I’ll get the quote later.. Thanks, Debby for fanning this spark in
e and showing me how to let the Holy Spirit blow oxygen onto these sparks…
Truth, beauty, joy all come from the same source – our loving God, who is constantly tending the spark of life implanted in our souls. Thanks for your exuberance in following your joy!
Thanks for this, Debby! 🙂 Glad you are following your JOY.
Thanks, Megan. I pray the same for you.
What a refreshing word for those of us who have grown up with the message “Just work harder!” Thanks for the encouraging word, Debby.
There is work harder, work smarter and work in the Spirit. Choose the later!
This is part of the quote from Einstein I wanted to post before: “It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it. . . The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it … In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.” (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, p. 207).
It is so interesting that he (Einstein) could not countenance a personal God but he heard the “music of the spheres.” I feel that because we have been give the faculties to hear such music, its hearing is important and the author of the music is yearning to be known. Put another way, why would eyes or ears have evolved if the objects that alter patterns of light and sound waves were not important for us? Likewise, why do we have the faculty to experience intense religious awe if patterns of this sensation were not important?
It is our desire for distance from God or our belief that we can not know our God that separates us from Him… it is your work, Debby, that helped me realize that I am loved personally and completely… this knowledge only deepens the joy I find in science. This love gives me compassion to help other young scientists (regardless of their religious beliefs) follow their joy without fear.
Thanks for the quote and the kind words, Noelle. I am grateful for your brilliance and your articulate voice.