Looking in the wrong place?
Joy can have a bad reputation, can’t it. It’s notoriously elusive. Like a morning mist, the moment the sun comes up, it’s gone. Shine the spotlight on it, and we’re empty-handed.
But, if we are looking, maybe we’re looking in the wrong place.
Maybe quintessential Joy isn’t even the thing we think it is…
We’re not talking here about the mob-ecstasy-experience when shouting or singing our throats raw at a sports, music, church event with 500 or 500,000 others.
Nor, for that matter, the simpler pleasures of, say, great coffee or a good massage.
Not even the exhilaration of conquering a mountain or a relationship.
No, this Joy has all the sophistication and subtlety of the divine.
Because it is.
And, because of its divinity, we may miss it.
(Though it can also come as the in-your-face revelation of a God-intervention.)
Instantly recognized or not, this Joy is a very different creature from its distant relatives.
Clues to its identity…
It takes exquisite delight in good coming to another.
It thrills when spotting the traces of God’s fingers working in human existence, or the extravagance of ingenuity, beauty and diversity in His Creation.
It’s in the smile behind a boy’s smile: seeing the rescued dog relish her newfound safety.
In the sigh beneath a woman’s sigh: watching the adopted child relax into his belovedness.
Joy is free of all bonds to please self, it is free to fully cherish the other.
I believe God wants us to know this Joy, His Joy.
And His Joy has everything to do with His love and friendship.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.”
John 15:11-15; The Message
One gorgeous detail
The Christmas story: It’s a story so well-known, but we may miss an essential, gorgeous detail:
The yet unborn John leaps for Joy in Elizabeth’s womb – “skipped like a lamb for sheer joy”– when his mother hears the greeting of Mary, who is pregnant with the Saviour of the world. And the Joy is utterly infectious, for John’s mother “sang out exuberantly,… ‘Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!’”
This Advent season may we also be gloriously infected, anticipating with Joy the meaning of Christ’s coming!
First shared with Church Simplified, Manila: https://www.facebook.com/churchsimplified/