JOY AND GOLD ARE BOTH BURIED IN THE DIRT
Last year I was down for a few weeks after surgery and spent a lot of time streaming TV. I hit on a show called Goldrush and was locked in through four seasons. Here’s what I learned about searching for gold and how it parallels the search for joy:
1. GOLD MUST BE PURSUED (STEADFASTLY AND STUBBORNLY)
Twenty or so people would spend thousands of dollars searching for good ground by taking drill samples. If any of the samples had even 10 flakes of gold, flakes that might be too small to register on a normal scale, they spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours turning acres of forest into dirt. Then acre size patches were dug 20 feet down, one after the other! Next they did test runs putting hundreds of yards of dirt through a wash plant hoping more flakes showed up. The plant had to be set up at the right pressure and angle so they could separate the dirt from the flakes. If it worked, about six months were spent repeating the last few steps of that process on a larger scale. Eight months work might only net enough gold to be about the size of a brownie.
2. GOLD MUST BE PROTECTED
But it doesn’t end there. You can’t eat gold brownies. You can’t build a sturdy house with them. That gold is a means to an end and everyone in town knows you have it. They want it as much or more than you. Now that you’ve dug it up, you have to guard it. And guarding it means finding a 24/7 procedure for keeping people form stealing it. If you only guard it when your thinking about it, it won’t be yours for long.
3. GOLD MUST BE INVESTED
Next you have to find a way to invest it. Some years they repeatedly hit paydirt but other years they found next to nothing. The ones who didn’t invest their gold eventually went out of business.
BACK TO JOY
Joy is more like gold than I ever imagined. If you want it you will have to seek the wisdom of those already rich in joy. You’ll have to make an active plan and leave behind the familiar to go on a hunt. Sometimes that hunt will feel awkward and foolish. People will laugh at you and tell you you’re out of your mind. The hunt may abound with false positives before it abounds with the real thing, each failure draining more resources and tempting you to quit.
More specifically, the hunt may involve walking through your heart with Jesus and being open to him revealing a new identity that you’re not comfortable with. It will certainly mean abandoning things you believe make this life tolerable in order to follow the direction God leads. It will mean saying yes to many things your heart and traditions say no to, and saying no to some your heart and traditions demand.
And like gold, when you find it there will be people and forces that want to separate you from it. They may want to steal it so they don’t have to cultivate their own joy or they may just want to kill it because your attitude offends their fear-based way of life. You can even be the most dangerous enemy as your old habits and ways of thinking threaten to suffocate your joy. You’ll need a 24/7 plan to guard it. Peace and an thankfulness are signs you have chosen a good plan. Tension and an inability to slow down and relax will be clues your plan needs revision. The same goes for the red flags of fear and shame.
Finally, joy must be invested. Some years will be good years and some years the business will have to run lean. Invest your joy by building one on one time with God into your schedule. Invest it in people you mentor, the people you serve, in your workplace, in being creative, and in anything else that consistently facilitates its growth. These endeavors can create joy-feedback loops that sustain you in the lean times.
A partner in the hunt,
Director of Music and Discipleship