I hit send on yet another email, re: in the title.
A quick Google search informs us that the letters re mean “in the matter of; about; concerning”. It is often used alone, as in email. But is also used as a prefix where it means “once more; afresh; anew; in return; or with negative force”.
These relationships between letters and the meanings we associate with them were bouncing around my mind during a sermon recently. I love when pastors set up their messages with easy-to-follow points, and even more so when the words they are using to bolster these points are also alliterations.
As I listened, more words beginning with re- kept popping into my head. I decided to write them down as they came to me, and figured I’d sort through them later. Of course, I soon forgot the words and the list entirely.
But as I sent the email, the letters re stared back at me, willing me to fetch the list. I perused the list of re- words and considered how they were all related. The one word that was NOT on the list that seemed to me the string on which all of these words were tied is relationship.
The first word on my list is rejoice. I love the thought of it. I feel like it represents a state of being fully aware, where regardless of situations or circumstances, we have learned to rejoice. It’s not being happy, necessarily, but a fullness in knowing that God has called us to himself.
This, in turn, begs the question of How do we get to this state of rejoicing?
The single most action in achieving a relationship with Jesus and finding a way to rejoice in all circumstances is to renew your mind. This looks a little different for each of us, but it involves overhauling the things we are feeding our minds and replacing them with the Word.
If social media has sucked you in to the point where you can’t go 5 minutes without checking your phone for a new notification or commenting on every post of someone’s salad, then maybe you need to delete your networking apps for a while. If binge watching Netflix leaves you wondering why your friends don’t ask you to go wine tasting in Napa Valley or why your significant other doesn’t fly you to exclusive, all-inclusive resorts for your 3 month dating anniversary, maybe you need to get off the couch or disconnect your Dish. From where I’m sitting, these two scenarios are just as toxic, if not more so, than being unable to put down addictions like drugs, alcohol, porn, and gambling.
Each of these provide a sense of satisfaction that your brain devours. But, as you’ve probably experienced by now, they leave you feeling empty and unsatisfied in the end. It sets us up to pick apart the relationships we have with those around us, and the one we have with ourselves.
We must reconcile the fact that, though the world is telling us we need this and need that to remain relevant, the most important factor is actually reconciliation with those around us. God has already reconciled us to himself by way of His son Jesus taking human form and dying as a sacrifice for our sins. He set the example for us to now let go of the things that hurt us and left us shattered. He showed us what reconciliation looks like, and that a lot of being able to reconcile with others starts with us reconciling our thoughts. If we recognize that we have lots and lots of thoughts, some good and others toxic, we discover that we can have some control over the thoughts we pay attention to.
I’m sure you can relate to spending too much time thinking about what someone said rather than being intentional with your family or friends, hours after the incident that is still replaying in your mind. In the same way, there are people around you that can relate to the things you’re going through. They may not have walked the exact path you’re trodding, but chances are they’ve been through a drought that taught them to depend on the Deliverer.
It’s a relief when we find those that we can journey with together. People who can point to their desert and say, But God. When the waters seemed too high – but God. When the fire was too hot – but God. When the gentle rains finally fall, not just the ones from your eyes, but the ones that begin to allow all that you’ve sowed to bloom – but God.
I’m so thankful that God gives us a re-do. He knows you’re trying to stay off your phone but that your co-workers are going to ask if you saw that so and so got a new dog. He knows you’re in the habit of posting up on the couch to watch a few
seasons episodes before bed, and that you’ll be 3 episodes deep before you remember that you were supposed to be spending that time focusing on Him. I am thankful for second, third, and fourth re-dos.
Here’s the catch, though. When God removes the things that have been blocking you from him, we need to leave them alone. If he has removed that toxic relationship, you don’t need to keep tabs on that person to make sure God’s still got it. If he has removed the desire for you to spend every penny you earn, you don’t need to log onto old sites just to see if they’ve got a sale.
There are times it is beneficial for us to be reminded of the wilderness God brought us through. But we cannot spend more time looking back at the things he has removed and reconciled that we miss our redemption. We must allow God to repair our broken ways of thinking and our broken hearts. He will put them back together in a way that only he can, using his love and grace and mercy as the glue to hold all of our renewed pieces together.
We have been redeemed. Now, we must respond and release the anxiousness and despair that we had become so accustomed to. This is where we release our resume´ and resume our route in Jesus’ footsteps. We know this is not easy. I mean, Paul wrote umpteen books in the Bible urging his fellow Christians to do these things. Paul knows what it means to turn from the old things and rejoice in what God has made new.
We must restrict the things that cause us to stumble. We need to spend time considering the cross and resurrection that enabled us to have direct access and relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. We need to recommit to loving like Jesus. We need to let go of our regret over not getting it right in the past, and when we need to, retrace our steps to reconcile ourselves to God.
Then we rejoice. We rejoice that God is good. He is an ever-present help in our time of need. He is our provider. He is the rock on which we stand, and which we lie down beside as he fights our battles. He is the light in the darkness. He is our relief when the things we’ve been going through leave us needing rescue.
Maybe He’s been sending you messages. Maybe your inbox is full of ways he’s been trying to call you to him. Maybe you need to send a reply. Re: I’m ready to rejoice.
Psalm 5:11“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”
Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
Psalm 118:24 “Let us rejoice today and be glad.”
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
Phillipians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
2 Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Romans 5:10 “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
Isaiah 44:22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
Lamentations 3:57-58 “You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.”