I Want To Make A Joyful Difference

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” ― C.S. Lewis

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” ― C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy


I have this in common with Lewis, for I was a most reluctant prodigal. I had lots of church-going in my history, but an intimate relationship with a Good and Loving Father in heaven? Nope. And I was so miserable. There was no joy anywhere in my life. So, like Lewis, I got down on my knees and begged God to teach me about His love… and about joy.

Isn’t our search for joy, really what searching for your own personal destiny is all about?

As well as answering that ageless question, “Why am I here?”

I had to find a right answer to that question.

photo-1498637841888-108c6b723fcbI confess, I tried on a lot of different hats before I finally found “the one” that really gave me that deep down joy where I just knew—this is why I am here on this planet!

I got side-tracked a time or two trying to wear a hat someone else thought should be mine. And yes, I crashed and burned more than once, going down in flames, because what had seemed like a “sure fit” at the moment I said, “Yes, I’ll do it!” ended up being a huge flop a little further down the road.

And you know the kind of “flop” I mean.

The kind where you are getting up every day to push that huge boulder up that dreaded hill!

Yeah, my journey to “my calling” has had many twists and turns as well as some ugly dead-ends, and even now, there are days I get discouraged and wonder if Jesus shouldn’t have found someone else to do this gospel thing.

Finding your JOY niche.

I was serving on a church staff in Seattle, sitting in our weekly staff meeting, when one of our senior pastors began to speak about his many years in the ministry. He spoke of the places he had been; the many difficulties along the way; and then he said something that became one of my “Aha!” moments. He said, “If you want to know for sure where you belong, and what you should be doing on this planet, look for the joy. What gives you great joy? When you find it—do that!”

It was what I needed to hear, because at the time I was having great success in where I was serving, but little joy.

It wasn’t about the work being hard. It was about the burden being heavy. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.” There was no lightness in what I was doing—no joy. Each day I picked up my heavy burden and carried it with great success. I pleased my superiors but something essential was missing. My success wasn’t very satisfying. I was living in a beautiful place, had lots of friends, and was doing a job that was administratively important. But there was little creativity in the work, and God created me with this overflowing abundance of creative drive.

So the Holy Spirit started nudging…

I once listened to a pastor do a whole series of sermons on shepherding and he introduced me to a term I’ve never forgotten. He said, “When a sheep is going in the wrong direction the shepherd will “shuv” (pronounced “shoove”) it in the right direction, using just a light touch of his staff.

I think this is how Jesus often helps us find our niche. With a gentle nudge He “shuvs” us in the direction He wants us to go.

He wants us to find our special place in creation’s dance!

He has called us, and gifted us, to fit perfectly in a place where we can be everything we were meant to be.

Look anywhere you like and you will find people who hurt.

At least I do! It’s like some crazy radar that I have! Seeing people in pain. It seems that no matter what room I walk into, I can see the lady who is hurting deeply; I can find the man with no sparkle in his eyes—the brokenhearted-broken ones.

It seems to be written into my spiritual DNA!

The hurting immediately stand out, and all I want to do is find that person, and encourage or comfort them. I think it’s how God takes all my scars with my kooky upbringing and redeems it all for His glory and good purposes. And isn’t that what finding destiny is all about?

Making a difference does make for great joy!

When you find your place on this planet—the place made for you—where you know that you know, you are going to make a difference?

You are standing in your destined place!

If you look at the stories in the gospels you will see that Jesus made a difference everywhere He went. He touched people at their point of deepest need. The woman at the well. The blind. The lame. The lepers. Even the Pharisees who hated Him. Having an encounter with Jesus changed people’s lives.

He introduced them to a God who meant them no harm—a God who  stood with arms wide open, ready and willing to love them right where they were at.

He came—pleading with them—to come to Him to fulfill their deepest longings.

He hasn’t changed.

And that is the Jesus I know, and want others to know, too. Fulfilling that mission will make all the difference. Playing my part in that purpose—is where I find the greatest joy!



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