OH HAPPY DAY
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
APRIL 17, 2011
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
The title comes from a song by the same name. A friend sent us the movie “Secretariat” for my birthday and that song was part of the background music. Lenny and I began to sing it while we were driving to the hospitals, visiting my mother in Neosho and my sister in Joplin. I downloaded a version of it from iTunes to my phone. The words and sentiment are anointed:
“Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.49
He taught me how to watch and pray
And live rejoicing everyday.
Happy Day, Happy Day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.”
The song always fills my heart with joy, especially when it has a “black spin” on it. In my youth, we used to sing a tamer version of it in church, something about a day that fixed my choice. As I recall, the gist of it was that now that I had made a choice for Jesus, I was happy. But we all remember that Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16) There is a universe of difference between my choosing Him, and Jesus choosing me, which He did before the foundation of the world! (Eph. 1:4).
It’s glorious enough that He chose us, but Paul adds, “that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” That reduces to rubble any pride we may have in our decisions, our choices, or our actions for God. Religion declares that WE must choose Christ; Life in the Spirit flows when we rest in His choice of us.
My immediate family has had an over abundance of “slight, momentary afflictions” lately. My sister had to have a knee replacement done over and they found the dreaded MRSA, a drug resistant strain of staph. She’s doing well, and hopefully, the IV antibiotics they are giving her daily for a total of six weeks, will knock it out. She will stay in the Rehab hospital until then.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, my 93 year old mother was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. One of the symptoms of that are swollen legs and feet, among other things. Her foot was so swollen, that her shoe had rubbed a sore on the top which got infected. They put her on IV antibiotics to fight the infection, and medication to reduce the fluid in her legs and feet. She is a fighter, no question about that, and is already home from the hospital, determined to take care of herself. The Lord had spoken to me that she would recover, and I praise Him for His care of her and His reassurance to me.
As we drove back and forth to the hospital to see my sister and mother, Lenny and I would sing “Oh Happy Day.” That caused me to remember the OH SO HAPPY DAY when Jesus baptized me in the Spirit. That was the day I felt, tasted, and experienced Christ as never before. I wept for joy and amazement that He was on that cross for Jan, something I had never fully comprehended.
Many of us have had those spiritual encounters where we experienced the precious presence and sweet fragrance of Jesus up close and personal. It transforms the most dreadful experience into a blessing from God. However, it usually takes me a while to get there after the “slight momentary afflictions” invade my life. As I was pondering this and talking to the Lord about it, it came to me that I have a lifetime of codependent mandates which come upon me in times of stress. My family, with the best of intentions, often operates in “fixer mode.” So, if you are hurting, I’m supposed to help you. If I have a problem, you’re supposed to fix it. Mother’s church friends say, “God expects us to do something.”
If it’s a matter of baking a casserole, or doing shopping, that’s one thing, but when the situation is serious, that puts a huge burden on my shoulders. My right knee and back have been hurting much worse and since those are “load bearing members” of the body, I intuited that I had picked up the load I was not capable of carrying, emotionally “jacked up” to run to the rescue, whatever it may be.
Neither my sister nor my mother had expected me to deliver them, because obviously, that’s above my “pay grade,” but I expected it of myself. Now that the crisis is passed and both are doing well, I’m feeling “let down,” tired, weak, and ready for a nap. This emotional and physical exhaustion caused me to reflect on the fact that the “Happy Day” was not just the day Jesus took my sins away, but the blessed truth that He lives His life through me and in me EVERY DAY! When I’m feeling tired, weak and ready for a nap, it’s because I failed to toss the burden onto His capable shoulders. That’s not a put down to me. I’m human and flawed in the flesh, but in the Spirit, I am an over comer. (John 16:33) I am a child of the King. (I John 3:1-2) I am seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6), and in Him, I am becoming the righteousness of God (II Cor. 5:20), for He who is in me, is greater than he who is in the world. (I John 4:4) Miraculously, I am qualified by God to share in the inheritance of the saints (Col. 1:12), and so are you! So are we all!
But how do we get from the feeble fears of the flesh to the heavenly places? Only God can open our eyes to see that we are already there right NOW. Many have projected that off to the so called “second coming,” but scripture does not bear that out. These precious promises are written in the present tense, or the present progressive tense. These powerful affirmations are for right now, and as Jonathan Mitchell translates so many verbs, they are progressively, continually, on-goingly true. Religion makes us wait until WE can produce the peace that passes understanding, but Paul declared that this peace, which “will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” is for us NOW, in Christ. (Php. 4:7)
Paul said that we access the promises now, “because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (II Cor. 4:18) That takes a bit of practice and patience, and of course, God’s help to open our eyes to see things the way He sees them, instead of what our natural minds are telling us. I love the rest of the passage because Paul is sharing what he saw and how he lived: “For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Cor. 5:4-7)
Codependency is Primary, Progressive, Chronic, and Fatal due to the fact that the only way out in the flesh, is death. I’ve seen people work themselves nearly to death trying to rescue everyone whom they perceive needs their help. What I’ve come to is that if I’m walking by the voice of the Lord, He will tell me what I must do and how I must do it. If He doesn’t, it is just my knee jerk codependency at work again. Sometimes, my urge to run to the rescue, overcomes my common sense, but age has a way of dealing with that, and what it doesn’t deal with, God does in His inimitable way. We walk by faith, not by sight and God will always and ever lead us in the ways of righteousness.
Father, thank You for bearing the burden and carrying the Load, for making every day a Happy Day in Christ. Thank You for opening our eyes to see you as You are, and for the light and help You provide to sustain us through the perils of our walk in this life. We will fear no evil, for You protect us and hold us always in the palm of Your hand. You make even the mountains and cactus patches seem like green pastures beside the still waters. You comfort us and restore our soul. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Amen.