As a Christian vessel impacted by God’s Graciousness I often wonder why sometimes Joy escapes me. At times I feel like a bathtub whose rubber stopper gets pulled right before the warm water of joy reaches the full line. Usually, it’s either worry or doubt that pulls the plug. To confirm which one it is I pray like this, “Lord what hinders me from being filled and overflowing with Joy?” After the prayer I immediately still my mind, relax, and listen for the Holy Spirit. I have to remind myself: shortness of time, and concerns of the past or future cannot fill my thoughts or focus is lost. Upon reminding myself I make the commitment to listen and expect an answer. That’s when the Holy Spirit speaks. On this occasion he said, “James, you are meant to be a vessel filled with joy overflowing. However, there are times I see “worry” get the best of you. Jesus discussed the antidote to worry in his gospel (Matt. Chap 6:25-34). The antidote, he said, is to train your focus on ‘first God’s kingdom and what God wants’ not on you and what you want. Remember, worry is a by-product of selfishness, whereas joy is a fact of selflessness.” As His voice subsides, and with a stilled mind I interpret his words and discover: Worry comes when I focus inward upon myself, my wants, and my desires. Worry is quelled when I focus completely on God’s will, God’s wants, God’s desire for me, and Christ’s ways. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own” said Christ. Reminds me of the old hymn “One Day at a Time.”
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“When our thoughts are anywhere but here and now, we are merely chasing shadows.” (Quote by Author Patricia Spadaro)
In the movie Gladiator, Maximus, the main character speaks a truth rarely applied in current day ethos. He says, “What we do in this life echoes in eternity.” Maximus, being a student of Marcus Aurelius seems to have absorbed his teacher’s sentiment. I often wonder if Roman Emperor Aurelius’ thoughts were influenced by the actions of great kings, regardless of their nationality. Fine Kings, such as those found in the Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible.
It is common knowledge that Emperor Aurelius was a scholarly man and in his readings he may have wandered upon the biblical books of 2 Samuel and 2 Kings. Each of these books contains an opportunity for each King to return evil for evil. King David and King Evil-Marodach could have dealt ruthlessly with two men, who, due to familial persecution and opposed nationality were perceived to be enemies of their throne. The two men who could have been royally judged and condemned were Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan (2 Samuel) and the disposed King of Judah Jehoiachin (2 Kings 25). However, they were not judged harshly nor condemned. They were shown Grace instead. But why, why not destroy the lives of Mephibosheth and Jehoiachin? I believe it was because of Truth, Friendship, Kindness, and Tenderness; but most important because “What we do now echoes in eternity.” (Marcus Aurelius) We are our choices!
I urge you to read the story surrounding these two graceful kings. You will see how truth, friendship, kindness, and tenderness make way for the choice of Grace. King David swore and oath of friendship to Mephibosheth’s Father Jonathan. In Grace David honored that oath. King Evil-Marodach was more than likely shown kindness and cared for by Jehoiachin, while they were imprisoned together. Jehoiachin’s kindness begot kindness, and kindness was the agent of Grace. Therefore, “in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month, Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, showed favor to Jehoiachin king of Judah and released him from prison.” (2 Kings 25:27) AND THOSE SET FREE BY GRACE ARE FREE INDEED!