A Walk in the Woods

I spent a couple of days away from home last week, attending the annual North Texas Conference Clergy Retreat. It's always a great time of fellowship and relaxation, catching up with colleagues, enjoying a peaceful 48 hours. Everyone's favorite time is Tuesday afternoon, an unstructured five or six hours. Some golf, others fish, others horseride, some nap.

During my time I went on an extended walk. I decided to go off the beaten path for awhile and explore. I had a schedule to keep-- I was planning to drive in to Sherman to see an afternoon movie-- but as I walked through the trees, unsure of where I was going, I didn't worry so much about my watch. As I explored, I listened to music. One song was pretty loud, my heart started pounding, and soon I was running through the trees. No path. It was absolutely joyful. The moment passed quickly, and soon I faced a dead end. Not wanting to be lost forever, I retraced my steps, got back to the road, found my car, and made it on time for the movie. I left the woods behind, but not the sense of joy.

When was the last time you had an experience like that? It was nothing life changing, no epiphanies or major decisions were made-- but without any other demands to deal with, I was able to really enjoy the moment and all it had in store for me. Too often we allow the circumstances of life to dictate to us where and when we will find a fleeting moment of joy. What would life look like if we decided to take the initiative ourselves instead of constantly waiting for the moment to arrive?

As Christians, we have God's wonderful gift of joy to share with the world-- and the world could really benefit from our sharing. It is easy to forget such joy exists when, if we were honest, we'd say we just do not feel it. Let me assure you: it is there. It may be hidden because you've piled a bunch of other stuff on top of it (sort of like looking for your shoes in the bottom of your closet), but it is there. Paul described this as treasure, hidden in clay jars (our bodies): "...So that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our bodies" (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).

So how are you living your life-- so that Jesus' life in you is on display for the world to see?