Read the following story aloud
Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a ‘new world’ so they organised a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better
than his instructor, but he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck. The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from
the ground up instead of the treetop down. The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.
Last session we considered restoring Joy, and this session continues the same theme of creating the right conditions for Joy, a fruit of the Spirit, to grow. Know who you are and live accordingly What type of person are you? Thinking back to the animal school we read about earlier – if you know that
you are a squirrel – why try to be an eagle? That is not to say that you should not aspire to be the best squirrel you can be but in all honesty why try to be something that you were not created to be? God created you how
you are for a reason with a purpose for your life. We so often look at others and think ‘why can’t I be more like them?’ The answer? Because you were created to be ‘the best you’ in God’s image and plan. ‘For many years I would look at other people who were doing lots of travelling with their speaking and gaining lots of recognition and I envied them. Then one year I was asked to do a number of speaking engagements – I soon realised that I experienced far more joy with my own congregation than zooming around the country speaking to big crowds – it just wasn’t me.’ (Rtd. Officer)
Understanding how we function and trying to develop more into the person we were created to be will bring increasing joy and we will live as people of integrity.
Spend time doing what you enjoy
We have often made a virtue of continuing to do something that we do not enjoy to the exclusion of things we do enjoy. What would it be like if we gave ourselves permission to do the things we actually liked; things that maybe are part of the way we were created; if we displayed ‘integrity in the inner man’? God created us to like and enjoy different activities and things. He designed us to be good at different things and to excel at them, so often we are pushed towards ‘average’. Why? Because as a rule, humanity likes uniformity and duty whereas God loves diversity and delight! So why not spend some time doing what you enjoy? If you do not know what you enjoy, find out. Why should not this stage in your life be a time when you rediscover those God-given attributes and delight in them? Why should not this be a time for new beginnings, learning new skills or re-discovering old
ones? There is a wealth of evidence that suggests that learning a new skill in later life ‘kick-starts’ the brain and improves health and well-being.
You may say ‘I haven’t got time to fit anything new in, I’m already doing so much; I’m already tired’. Well that is fine – if you are enjoying it, but what if you are not? Maybe it is time to make an assessment of the things that you do and make sure there is time in your schedule to do things that develop your joy and provide you with an uplifting life. Most people do not feel tired
when they are doing things they enjoy doing. The truth is that many of us find ourselves continuing to do things that we once enjoyed, or that we agreed to do for a time that we do out of a sense of duty. Asking for the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, open your life to doing the things you enjoy, not just the things you feel you should be doing. Elsewhere in this series we have thought about the reality that we are all unique, consequently
the things that develop our joy are also unique and let us remember that the ways and plans of God are far beyond our understanding. Who is to say that the interest that you have had in photography since you were a young man was not implanted in you by God so that you could be a witness of joy to the local camera club? Or that the fact you loved to dance as a child was
not put there by God so that years later you could lead your dance partner to Christ?
Look at your schedule and consider whether you can free up time for something that you were maybe intended to do.
Ask for God’s guidance – and be obedient!
For the next session
Source and bring some inspirational quotes or pictures. Come up with an inspirational quote of your own.