…For the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
Long before Jake the Desert Bone Dog came to be part of our family in 2015, there was another dog who spent his life from about one year of age until he crossed the rainbow bridge in 2014 bringing a wonderful quality of the very best kind of “dogginess” to our extended family. Buddy was a rescue dog, a Cocker Spaniel mix. He never told us what the other elements of his “mix” consisted of, but Buddy was a great dog! And after his passing, I didn’t think there could ever be another dog as great as Buddy, but that was before I met Jake! If you read my stuff for any significant period or follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll read plenty about Jake! But this story is about Buddy the Dog.
One crisp, sunny winter afternoon I walked along an old track in the Juniper forest east of my Central Oregon home and watched my dog Buddy run. Buddy’s no greyhound, but he really loves to run! He runs with such abandon, long ears flapping, dodging sagebrush, leaping over weather-bleached juniper logs, chasing imaginary rabbits and deer!
Sometimes, watching Buddy run, I just had to laugh out loud! I could see the joy in him, joy that comes from doing what God created him to do. Because I loved that old dog, I felt joy when I watched him doing what he loved to do.
Buddy loved to run because that’s what God created him to do. I believe that because God is so good, and loves us so much, he made us to have the same joy in doing what he created us to do that my dog Buddy had in running through the forest and the fields.
Here are a few things we know about ourselves:
- We do best what we care most deeply about.
- We do best what comes from deep inside us.
- We do best what we do with greatest passion.
- We do best what gives us joy.
Eric Liddell, the Scottish distance runner featured in the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire,” is quoted: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”
Why does it often seem so hard to know what God created us to do and to experience the simple, profound joy in doing it? Do we get stuck in the routines of merely “getting the job done”? Have we become trapped by the expectations of others? Are we too busy to take a deep breath and ask a couple of honest questions?
If these questions resonate with you, here are some ideas you could try:
- Take time to take stock. What gives you pure, simple joy? Have an honest think about when you’re most joyful, most fulfilled.
- Talk to those who know you best and care about you most. Ask honest questions: “When do you see me most joyful, most energized?”
- Talk to your Creator about what you were made for.
I’m certainly not minimizing the importance of discipline, of doing what must be done, of fulfilling our commitments. This isn’t about only doing things that make you feel good. This isn’t about shirking responsibilities or duties. This is about being honest, being brave, and being willing to step out of your “must do” zone into your joyful “get to” zone!
And one thing more. You’re an influencer of others. You are, at some level, in some relationships, a leader and influencer. So think about—be aware of—what gives joy to those you influence most.
What if we parents and teachers and managers and bosses and other influencers looked carefully and caringly at those we influence and helped each of them discover just what God created them to do? What if we made it our pleasure to create opportunities for each person we love and influence to do the things that they were created for—the things that give them joy? What if we did that?
Just as I often took Buddy to the Juniper forest or the desert to create an opportunity for him to run, I believe God loves to create opportunities for people like you and me to “run!” And I believe that when we are simply doing what God created us to do, he rejoices – he feels the pleasure and joy of it with us!
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy. (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)
What do you think?
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.