Joy is something we all want; yet how we define it, how we find, and we keep it differ. These are a few of my thoughts; Joy is hard to define, but it’s more than a feeling and more than a change of attitude. It is not something that happens to us. It’s something that we must plan for. We can find joy in our relationships and through our accomplishments.

How do we find joy in accomplishment? Does it mean that we are the best player, that we are the first to end the race, or that we score 100 percent on every test? I used to think so, but I’ve changed my mind.

For example, on Oct. 15, I invited others to join me in an early 2016 New Year’s Day Challenge. I said that my goal was to accomplish important tasks for the year and celebrate New Year’s Day 2016 with emotional, physical, and spiritual reserve—a heart filled with love, a body filled with energy, and a spirit filled with joy.

Now it’s reporting time. Did I meet my challenge? Some of the goals that I wanted to accomplish in 2015 were not completed. One was completed, but not with perfection. Did I feel joy? Not at first. Because I did not accomplish every goal, and I did not accomplish some of them according to my standard of perfection, I felt very discouraged. But when I realized how much that I had learned and how good and gracious God is, my perspective changed. A song of joy sprang up in my heart. Now I feel thankful for what, by God’s grace, I was able to accomplish, and I’ve set new goals for 2016.

The joy of accomplishment does not mean completing everything; it means completing those things that God has designed us and equipped us to do.  In accomplishing those things, we find joy. I look forward to the joy of accomplishment this year because I believe my goals are in line with God’s purposes for me. That’s what I thought last year, too. However, as the year progressed, I realized that I needed to make adjustments. I expect that I will need to do the same thing, this year. As Solomon said, “We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands” (Proverbs 16:1 TLB).

According to James, we are “but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing [we need to] . . . make it a habit to say, ‘“If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.”’ (James 4:13-15 MSG).

Jesus modeled for us what it means to find joy in accomplishing Father-God’s purposes. He did only those things that he was called to do. He said, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” (John 4:34 NLT)

We plan for joy by aligning our dreams, goals, and accomplishments with God’s good purposes for us. When we do this, we will not be disappointed. We will experience the greatest of all—intimacy in our relationship with Jesus.

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