Friday, 9 December 2016

J O Y to the World!

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of J O Y ; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore ~ Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

A mercifully mild morning. Soft hazes drift in and out of view and a hush hangs over the valley where the clouds part. As so many times before, I watched a jackal buzzard slip into a thermal column and spiral upwards on an invisible stream of lift. Children dream of flying, and send kites, soap bubbles and balloons soaring amidst great excitement and laughter. We may still dream of it, but have long since stopped believing in the joy of soaring, of freedom from gravity, from the downward pull of all that is earthbound and weighty.

There is a small "winged" word, a word that is effervescent, luminous, light, buoyant and blithe.

J O Y...

I had, what I thought to be a relevant, pertinent and important topic in mind for this post, but when the Lord pushed this little word into the spotlight, I felt "light". The cork is being eased out, bubbles are rising to the surface. It is time to explore J O Y, with lightness and freedom from being secular and wordly.

I'd like to kick off with a few instances I remember experiencing soaring J O Y, which I believe to have been heaven-sent:

- When our children were born.
- When Jesus first told me in a breeze that he loved me.
- When my (now) husband first called me his princess.
- When I first feasted my eyes on the view from the newly cleared piece of land, which we now live on.
- When I first realised how much freedom the cross has afforded me (us).
- When I first listened to a truly magnificent symphony written by a man who could not hear.
- When I received a letter from a friend's daughter, telling me that God writes poetry about me.
- When I experience moments of deep worship.
- When I took my first light and tentative "free" steps after the confinement of a back brace.
- When I realised that I am God's masterpiece in the making.
- When I woke up one sunny morning and found that I belong...

There are still many more, and I believe the list will continue to grow with each new day, arriving with fresh mercies in it's dawn. Make your own list, even if it just a mental remembering - it is a joyous thing to do.

There are other stronger words which I associate with J O Y. Rapture, passion, ecstasy, elation, euphoria, bliss, rhapsody, jubilation, beatitude... And yes - peace and serenity.

I read the first page of a book recently, just to get a feel for it. The author relates how he never liked or enjoyed jazz, simply because jazz doesn't resolve. Until the day he watched a man on the street outside the Baghdad Theatre in Portland play the saxophone. He stood there, watching, listening, for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes, during which the musician never opened his eyes. I could relate. The wonder and J O Y of the experience, took him away. It changed him, gave him wings to travel to places never imagined.

J O Y is like that. It is contagious. That is, if it is for real. Consistently shiny, happy people can often annoy one with their insistence on bouncing their happiness around like a ping pong ball, while no one else is playing. But see a person enter a room who's eyes are lit with an inner peace and J O Y, so beguiling that even the grumpiest old moth is drawn to it. With the difference that the flame never sears or hurts. It is the hearth after the storm, hands around a steaming mug, soaking in a hot tub after a cold day. The play of light and effervescence at the foot of a waterfall, the splendour of the starry dome on a dark night.

J O Y is an infusion rather than an emotion. It is soaked up from the inside and overflows to the outside. It is more than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Favourite things may add to J O Y that is already there, but it does not fade away when the "things" are no longer there.

Our seven year old (Luke) has just interrupted my writing by announcing that he and his brother are creating a little "world" with their blocks called "Zippylukia". One of those moments which definitely add to my J O Y !

A friend of mine once told me that she asked God for a song in the night. This became a source of  J O Y, being a rippling reminder of the reason why she sings. I leak out "good intentions", and still sometimes wake up in the night, not with a song, but remembering something I should have done, or with an anxiety about something I am still supposed to do. But my God of mercy knows this also, and He gives me a song regardless!

Which finally brings me to the "secret"; the three words which precede and follow true J O Y :

"Of the Lord".

The J O Y of the Lord makes me strong. This does not necessarily mean that I have more physical and mental endurance when I feel joyful, although it certainly helps! It means:
- I have strength against the condemnation of the law's just demands.
- I have strength against the assaults of our enemy.
- I have strength in the hope of God's promises.

J O Y comes to me, like sin leaves me - more often and more consistently the nearer I move to Jesus.

- The J O Y of the Lord is the joy that God Himself possesses.
- The J O Y of the Lord follow the tears of repentance.
- The solid J O Y of the Lord is the J O Y of sins forgiven and the hope of heaven, which is "under girded" by the grief over sin and our Saviour's consequent suffering.
- The J O Y of the Lord is J O Y in God himself.
- The J O Y of the Lord comes from spending time and understanding God's living Word.
- The J O Y of the Lord is the J O Y of God's forgiveness and covenant love.
- The J O Y of the Lord is the second fruit of the Holy Spirit.
- The J O Y of the Lord comes from a knowledge that even now, we are seated in heavenly places with Him.

Weeping may remain for a night - but rejoicing (J O Y) comes in the morning (Ps 30:5). 

Our hope and J O Y is in a Kingdom which is at hand, here - not a faraway, beckoning, golden mirage. The Ruler of this Kingdom is waiting to take you to places never imagined. He will use any means possible to lead you there. A whisper, a shout, a beckoning - all leading to J O Y in His presence. Hear God laughing. With you. Because of you. You bring him J O Y. As He longs to bring you...