Monday, April 14, 2014

If I don't choose joy, Satan will choose weakness and misery for me.

One of the things Braden and I were most excited about having our own place was the opportunity to have people over, to host an event, or just to have friends come hang out. In Clemson, it was rare to be in an empty apartment. At most times of the day, someone was over or stopping by, and it was weird if you didn't have any visitors. Now that we're married, we share a little townhouse on the outskirts of Greenville. We've had visitors here and there, a few of our close friends staying the night, but nothing crazy. We've wanted to have a big get together here, but we've started this awkward trend.

Christmas time we wanted to have a White Elephant party, a time where we could see old friends and have a little house warming for our place. 4 people showed up out of the 40 invited. We justified by saying everyone was busy with Christmas parties, family, traveling. Made sense. We decided to try again and invite people over for Gravitopia (clearly the only way to celebrate turning 23) and snacks at our place for Braden's birthday in March. 3 people came to Gravitopia, 4 people came to our place out of 45+ invited. We thought third time's the charm, and wanted to celebrate our friends Chase and Annabeth with a His & Hers shower this past weekend. 2 people came in addition to Chase and AB.

So, that leaves me to wonder, what in the world is wrong with us!? I get my feelings hurt pretty easily, and I'll be honest, it doesn't feel wonderful when no one comes. But, the point of this post isn't for anyone to feel bad for little old Jess. Grace preached on a sermon that hit this one on the head for me. It was from Luke 14, the story about "a man who once gave a great banquet and invited many (v15)" but each of the guests invited gave excuses on why they could not come. As Grace explained, these were laughable excuses like "I have married a wife, and therefore cannot come (v20)." The invitor in this story was furious, so he sent his servant out to the streets and instructed him to bring in the poor, crippled, blind, and the lame.

Inviting people into your home is vulnerable. You're setting yourself up for an opportunity to feel discarded, to feel wounded, and to feel unimportant.

This story shows the severity of God. The first people invited to the banquet didn't really ever want the invitation -- they had better things to do. So what was His response? He wanted the house to be full, the master craves to invite. Those who were first invited, are no longer invited, and the house was filled with the broken. It's easy to surround yourself with people who are like you, who share the same passions and likes. But, we are called to stick with the people who are different. The Lord will reward you for reaching out, for going outside of your comfort zone.

After our third failed attempt yesterday, I needed some understanding on why this is a reoccurring theme. I'll be honest, it made me feel pretty crappy. Braden challenged me last night and asked "why" we really wanted people to come. Is it a selfish desire? Maybe it is, maybe it's something that needs to be exposed in my life. That's something I'm still working through. But nonetheless, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Luckily, Jesus always has our back.

My devotion today was to choose joy. Simple concept, extremely hard to do daily. I get down so easily, and Satan uses that weakness to his advantage. He pursues my weakness, where Jesus pursues my strengths.

The joy of the Lord is our Strength -- Nehemiah 8:10

Satan constantly tries to steal my joy, especially through the little things that don't truly matter. But those little things are the things that wreck me. The first thing I must do is truly believe that it is God's will for me to experience continuous joy. Then, I have to decide if I want to enter into that continuous joy. It's a choice every single day when I'm choosing what to do with my time, when I'm looking at Instagram / Facebook and see the highlights of others lives, choosing what to eat, how I interact with my photography clients, my attitude towards Braden.

If I don't choose joy, Satan will choose weakness and misery for me.

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