“To miss joy is to miss all,” – Robert Louis Stephenson.
In the movie October Baby, college freshman, Hannah, learns that she was actually adopted, after a failed abortion attempt. Bewildered, angered and confused, Hannah embarks on a journey with Jason, her oldest friend, that is strewn with potholes and unforeseen circumstances. But in the midst of her incredible journey to discover her hidden past and find hope for her unknown future, Hannah finds the trip has become a joy ride that connected her to God.
Christianity should be a joy ride. But what does joy look like? You can be happy your team won, you can be giddy about a great opportunity, you can act happy yet be under the influence of some substance. C.S. Lewis said, “joy is the serious business of Heaven.” So, what is it that makes true Christian joy different from these things?
According to Webster, joy is a source or cause of delight. Proverbs 10:28 says, “The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” Where does our joy come from? How can we find and more importantly, keep the kind of joy the scriptures speak about?
Let me give you an analogy based on the mundane and everyday. Most of us have the tendency – some of us daily in fact – of misplacing our wallet, or car keys or phone or fill in the blank. Then the search begins, with one eye on the watch because we always need to be somewhere when the keys or wallet or phone are coming up missing. The longer the search the more frustrated we get. At that moment we are probably not singing, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”
And yes, I do get frustrated when I can’t find my keys because they found their way into the garbage or in the bottom of a closet or some other unimaginable place. The best solution seems to be to throw up my hands in defeat and call off the search. That is not the solution because we would be unplugged, broke, unemployed, and locked out of our home. So we carry on with the search even though there we don’t have the time or inclination to do so.
In the same way, we must search for joy. Because like searching for my wallet, phone or keys, if I don’t seek joy, I probably won’t find it. John 16:24 says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
A few weeks back, the Daraja Children’s Choir from Africa performed at our Panama City Campus on Wednesday evening. Those who attended the concert had no choice but to be full of joy and moved by the power of God at work in those remarkable children. You can see how much the children love the Lord in their praise, dancing and singing. Mark Twain once stated that to get full value of joy we must have someone to share it with. These kids have a unique way of sharing their joy. No filters, no pretense, no conditions, just joy. I pray we will be the kind of people who seek after the joy of the Lord.
Occasionally someone will ask me what brings me joy. There are many things that bring me joy but only a couple that bring me the kind of joy found in the Daraja kids. Before I tell you what brings me joy, let me tell you what doesn’t. Meetings would be on the top of that list. I spend a lot of time in meetings. And even though it is not my thing, I do it with joy because meetings are necessary to achieve my goals to move our church forward, and to make the very best use of our resources, both financial and human. When we focus on God there is joy in everything we do for Him.
My family brings me joy. Studying the Bible, devotion time and prayer brings me joy as well. Teaching on Sunday is a passion of mine that just naturally brings me, and hopefully you, joy.
There is one aspect of my “job” that has always given me the most joy. There are times when God gives me the opportunity to listen to a person share their pain, concern, fear, whatever is troubling them. This can happen at lunch, in my office, in their home or even in a hospital. What a privilege it is to listen, pray, and share the message of salvation, comfort, and peace with someone. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
My prayer is you will seek joy because finding joy in serving God is an essential part of our Christianity because it serves as an antidote to all the despair that surrounds us on a daily basis. I encourage you to discover that joy for yourself by finding ways in which you can serve God in your own life: be it at church, at your job, in your family. Open yourself to the possibility of service of God and watch as he makes opportunities available to you.