STEVE’S EXTRAS: CHOOSE JOY

 Day 6 Habukkuk, Chose Joy

Joy, it’s often so elusive.

Mostly because we equate it with happiness or we somehow have defined it only as exuberance of heart and voice. We wonder, can we experience joy more mild-manneredly?

For many Christians, we devalue the word happy and elevate the word joy because we somehow believe that we are not supposed to be happy. Joy seems to be more “biblical” or “spiritual” and we therefore assume it’s what we should be experiencing.

And I get it, because being happy is usually combined with circumstances and for so many today, life is hard. So, imagine your life without many happy circumstances. Would you still be able to find and choose joy?

Well, that’s exactly what Habbakuk does in his Old Testament prayer. For this prophet-of-old, his circumstances ain’t too sweet (as noted in the prayer below). And yet he discovers joy. I suspect the joy Habakkuk references in his prayer in Habakkuk 3 is precisely the joy God invites us to hold precious in our souls too. That’s why I so appreciate Habakkuk’s prayer. And, believe it’s a prayer I could use too.

My version of Habakkuk’s prayer would look something like this,

Lord, even though life gets hard at times, my work and relationships can be strenuous, and even though I don’t have the resources I’d prefer or the results I set out to create, I still want to find my joy in you today. I choose to embrace your gift of joy in my heart, regardless of how I’m feeling about my life today. Help me by your grace to experience deep joy, and even happiness, yet today. I trust you for those gifts as I lean on your strength.
In Christ’s joy, amen.

When I pray that way, I find my heart’s true home: in the loving embrace of God.

At Leadership Transformations we are celebrating our 15th year of offering soul hospitality for leaders across the USA and around the world. My prayer is that you too will find joy in the Lord as you celebrate his infinite affection for you, his beloved child. When you pray, you return home. Come home, dear soul.

The Father waits with a loving embrace and a “Welcome home!”

Ahhh…such delightful joy!


DAY 6 – HABUKKUK

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Habakkuk knew the secret of contentment and joy. His role in the community of faithful prayer warriors is one of transparency and trust amidst undeniably difficult circumstances. His prayer today defines the word “joy” better than many other places. Here he freely articulates what’s missing in life – no fig buds, no grapes on the vine, no olives on the trees, no crops in the fields, no sheep in the pen or cattle in the stalls. And yet, he finds room in his heart to rejoice and give thanks – to be glad, content, and full of rejoicing. Habakkuk’s testimony is an inspiration to followers of God in every generation.

So often we look at what’s missing in our lives. We moan about what we lack. We complain about what’s absent from our lives rather than find contentment and peace within the constraints of our lives. We tend to look over the fence and want what belongs to another. We lust for the things of this world more than hunger for the things of God. Our humanity boasts of the material when all the while God is offering us a better way, even if it means suffering, loss, and deprivation of material “blessings” and “things” we have come to believe are formative of our identity.

But in this prayer, we remember with thanksgiving the myriad hidden and intangible gifts all around us, and the abundance offered to us by our generous and loving God. When we can offer our praise to God despite the apparent disheartening situations of our day, God fills our hearts with truly biblical joy.

Today…

Join Habakkuk and pray for God’s joy no matter what comes your way and in spite of what you feel is missing in your life with God (Habakkuk 3: 1-2; 17-19).
Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy…
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

As you reflect on the Word, how is God inviting you to pray?
What biblical words or phrases are you led to use in your own prayer?

Behold the splendor of the Lord – Believe the promises of his love – Belong to those who unreservedly trust him – Become prayerful in all you are and do.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.