Yesterday, I hung a light fixture for my dad.  Well, recently I have hung several but there is one type that seems impossible to install without a great deal of aggravation and frustration and maybe a few other “ations” that elude my mind at this moment.

Some of the fixtures I put up for him were simple, just remove the old one, undo some wire nuts, re-do the wire nut on the new light and hang it up.

I like that.

I want life to be like that.  Just pull out anger, do some quick re-wiring of my brain and “voila”, a patient and gentle man emerges.

Yep.  That sounds real good.

But most of my life is more like the other light fixture, the one that weighs enough to cave in the ceiling, that has more parts than a Ford and if one single thing is done wrong, the whole works has to be taken apart and re-assembled.

I guarantee you that even though I didn’t say anything out loud that would not have been appropriate for all audiences, it was racing through my mind as that light tormented me every which way but up.

I think it is a pretty good example of the road many of us have to walk.  We deal with addiction.  We get our act together, start putting something positive in place of the old miserable stuff that controlled us before and “Blam”, we hit the switch and it doesn’t work.

I see a lot of people that just leave that light hang there.  It was so close to being new and exciting but it didn’t work so they gave up.

I did that a LOT of times.

If I have learned nothing else over the course of the last several years it is this, try again.

Try again.

Take that whole seemingly useless pile of what looks like it ought to work and doesn’t and dismantle it.  Give it a give going over.  So often, we just had a little piece out of place or a wire not quite connected.

It only takes one small detail to make something not function like it should.  Take it apart and rebuild it, follow the instructions more closely, pay more attention to what you are doing and hang that sucker up one more time.  Don’t just let all that work hang there and walk away.

James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

I don’t know if I could have hung out with James.  I mean this guy is kind of nuts.  In my book, troubles still don’t mean joy.  But my book isn’t done being written.

See, there were times I would have hung that light up, flipped the switch, been disappointed and walked away forever.  When that trouble came, I experienced nothing but failure.

But yesterday, since I have hung so many lights over the years, I had no intention of giving up, EVER!  I was going to hang that light and it was going to work even if I had to dismantle it a hundred times.  It was going to light up when I hit that switch.

My shoulder kind of ached from that awkward position there on the ladder trying to balance a heavy light, wire it up, turn screws and play the piano (OK, I wasn’t trying to play the piano but I felt like I was trying), my neck was tired of looking up, my arms felt kind of numb, but I was NOT going to quit.

Before long, I was putting the shades on, installing the bulbs and the light switch went on.  Beautiful light filled the room and I sat down in a chair and then the joy came.

I wasn’t doing cartwheels or a cheer or even laughing.  I just felt joy.  I felt joy over a light going on the ceiling.  I sat and looked at all the new light fixtures giving off light and admired the way it made the whole place better than it was.


Nope.  Trials and trying over and over again aren’t ever going to be a good time.  But they are an opportunity for me to move over on the other side of my efforts and stand in the light of success and not the shadows of failure.

So, if you relapse, if you get angry and punch a wall or a nose, if you get scared and run and hide when you should have stood, if you fall apart when you should have been strong, if you walk when you should have run, try again.

Have the courage to rip everything apart and see what went wrong and do it right.  Find joy that can’t be found by giving up and giving in.

19 thoughts on “Finding Joy

  1. Great analogy, Mike. Years ago I repurposed a 200 year old log house with no modern amenities. Installing electrical, plumbing, phone, cable, and central vacuum brought me many times to the point of swearing like a sailor and throwing in the towel. In retrospect, that was one of the most prolific times of spiritual growth in my life.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is harder to read at the end of a long day. Harder in that it means much more than at the start of the day, meaning I will continue trying tomorrow. Maybe I’ll read it again in the morning too.

    You’re right, of course. We are to grow, and how can we grow if we are already perfect (which we are not)? But oh the joy we have in knowing that God has already made us perfect in Christ, and then there’s all of eternity.

    Thanks for the bright spot in my day, Mike. (pun intended) Having never hung a light, I learned something about that too.

    Liked by 1 person

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