These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11 (ESV)
When was the last time you were ambushed by joy? Perhaps you were engaged in a heart to heart conversation or driving home from work at sunset or out for a walk on a spring day with the warm sun shining on you. Maybe it was this morning as you sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee gazing out the window. Whenever or wherever, think about a time when you were suddenly overwhelmed with a deep abiding sense that just for that moment, all was right in your world. An overriding joy bubbled up from within your soul, your problems and concerns simply evaporated and you realized that nothing else mattered. That moment you were experiencing was a gift from God, just for you and something to be treasured and enjoyed. And all you could do was marvel at it and revel in it and thank God for it.
One of the wonders of such joy is a compelling desire to preserve that moment with its accompanying peace and rest, in order to relive it and if possible share it with those we love. Joy has an amazing capacity to produce a generosity of spirit. But alas such joy so often is too ephemeral to can or bottle. Like a stunning, yet fleeting sunset it defies capture and transcends words.
Deep abiding joy does not originate with us. Its source is hidden in the mysterious wonder of God’s working. Like water seeping up through the hardened ground of trying circumstances it saturates to the point of turning even bitter things sweet. Joy emerges even when we are sick and bowed with pain or when we are in the midst of depression . . . even when we are grieving at the bedside of a dying loved one.
This joy is not something we can conjure up or earn through self will or planning, ingenuity or hard work. It is a gift from God, banded as it were with a ribbon of eternal bliss. When unwrapped it gives us an unmerited glimpse into the wonder of His creation, the mystery of His will and the knowledge of His sovereignty. The only fitting reaction is to pause, take a deep breath to savor the moment and breathe out praise.
Of course the source of joy of which I am speaking is God Himself, if we are humble enough to acknowledge it. That is why Jesus called it “my joy.” That quality and depth of joy, so independent of our effort or circumstances, is a gift of joy from Jesus that is meant to permeate our very being – to be “in” us and to “fill” us
It is noteworthy, that more often than not, such joy, His joy, fills us in non religious settings. It is not necessarily a joy associated with a church service, religious tradition or practice. On the contrary it surprises us most commonly when we are simply doing life. That is because a joy that is “in” us goes where we go so that it can overflow when we need it most. I think that was Jesus plan all along. He said the things He did because He wanted His joy to be our sustaining strength no matter what our circumstances.
And why joy? Why did He not choose to say “that my righteousness may be in you”? Or why not “that my grace may be in you”? Both of these qualities are attributed elsewhere in the scriptures as being gifts of God that are “in” or “with” us. I think Jesus chose “joy” over every other possible virtue because it is the evidence of all the others. Joy is the rock, paper, scissors to everything. When we have His joy, truly have His joy abiding in us, it is the proof and by product of His righteousness, grace, mercy, loving kindness, compassion, forgiveness, even His salvation abiding in us.
May His joy be in you and may your joy be full!
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