Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lord, Please Fill My Heart with Joy

People used to joke about movie starlets who never wanted to turn thirty; but judging from today's medical advice, forty is the birthday to watch out for. Until then, most people apparently can take good health for granted; afterward, we have special need for annual medical exams, anti-aging vitamins, daily exercise, and super-cautious eating.

Partly in preparation for attaining the big 4-0 myself next March, I've recently begun researching hormonal balances and nutrition. And at times wish I hadn't. Five or six books on good health can leave you wondering if the only hope is learning to survive on vitamin supplements. Everything you could possibly put in your mouth apparently causes cancer, heart disease, or osteoporosis--if not directly, from being poisoned through food processing and/or environmental toxins. Worse yet, no two "experts" seem to agree on what you should eat. Eggs are a vital source of nutrients--no, they'll drive your cholesterol through the roof. Fresh fruit is good for you--no, it'll overload your blood with carbohydrates and glucose. You need three servings of dairy products, and six of whole grains, daily--no, that'll give you a major hormone imbalance. One author, pushing the idea that the USDA Food Guide Pyramid was a conspiracy of farming interests and that what we really need is more red meat and raw milk, rattled off a list of diseases that have increased in the last century and then asked sardonically, "If the now-accepted diet is so good for us, why are we so sick?"

Probably from worrying about our health.

The obsessive search for a diet that will keep us in top physical condition indefinitely is another manifestation of the search for total control that has driven humanity since Eve bought the "you will be like God" line. Just visit or WorldCat and count the number of books that purportedly tell us--in detail--how to ensure regular good luck, prepare for any crisis from job loss to a major terrorist attack, or otherwise ensure the rest of our lives will run smoothly. Many such writers now go so far as to tell us we literally do have Godlike powers. Virtually all imply that "you know best what will make you happy."

Do we? What about the many people who get what they desperately want and later regret it--or the ones who don't get what they want and are later glad they didn't?

The truth is that real happiness--pure, deep joy--comes not from circumstances but from God. Reject His authority, and you'll end up echoing Ecc. 2:10-11: "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.... Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained." Stay in right relationship with your Lord, and, like Paul, you'll be able to sing for joy even if lying injured in a prison cell (Acts 16:22-25).

And, in better times, to occasionally enjoy a chocolate cheesecake without worrying it'll kill you.

Lord, please fill my heart with joy:
No earthly peace I crave,
Nor fame, applause, or mortal wealth,
Lest I prove fortune's slave.
Let not the whims of circumstance
Be what delights my soul,
For circumstance is fickle friend,
And brings no joy that's whole.

Lord, please fill my heart with joy:
For health, when found alone,
Or earth's success, without You, proves
Unsure as gods of stone.
I crave a joy of grander depth,
One strong through war and pain--
That joy set firm through knowing You,
Where all at last is gain.

Lord, please fill my heart with joy:
I may be rich or poor,
But let me never fail to hear
Your knocking on my door.
Let all my joy be based in this:
That You are still my Lord,
That You gave all You had for me,
And hold my true reward.

Lord, please fill my heart with joy:
May zeal to do Your will,
And hear Your voice and seek Your face,
My thoughts and actions fill.
Let all my peace and love of life
Be found in You alone,
Preparing me for purest joy
One day before Your Throne!

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