Joy (1,155)

May 23rd, 2011

It was my pleasure to spend yesterday morning sharing my little bits of human understanding and dribblings of talent at the Joy Lutheran Church in Prescott, Wisconsin. When I discovered that the name of the church was “Joy,” I was a bit bemused, because I do have a memory of performing in front of a congregation dubbed “Love One Another Christian Fellowship” in Arkansas, which, as I departed, made me wonder if the name only applied to those who were present when the vote was taken.

Alas, this memory did get me thinking about the word joy. It’s a word that isn’t often used—not nearly as frequently applied in this modern-day world.

Too bad.

Because the Bible says “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” So since it is the source of our empowerment, it might be a good idea to know exactly how to harness its energy. I think those dear citizens of Prescott helped me put a practical definition on the word—or dare I say, the process—of joy. It was demonstrated by one man who told me about a series of numbers:

82, 61, 6 and 1.

Let me explain. He was 82 years old—although honestly, he appeared to be much younger than this road warrior felt on that particular day.

He had been married for 61 years, which made my 40 suddenly seem puny by comparison.

He had recently survived a heart attack, even though he had passed away 6 times and had to be revived.

And now he has 1 life—filled with gratitude.

82, 61, 6 and 1.

I listened to his story with great interest and admiration. At the end, all I could muster from my position of appreciation were the words, “I’m glad you’re here.”

But it was like a lightning bolt went off in my brain. (Well, that’s an exaggeration. My brain doesn’t have enough power to generate more than 150 watts) I suddenly realized what joy was. Joy is “I’m glad you’re here.”

First, it occurs by looking in the mirror—past all of our foibles, pimples and oddities, and with a bit of chuckle, saying, “I’m glad you’re here.” More people destroy their potential and their fruitfulness by taking life seriously than any other way I can think of. Personal dissatisfaction is not the best pavement for the road to improvement. Some sense of being glad that we’re here and working with our little sack of treasures is required to stimulate any interest amongst our fellow-earthlings and even the King of the Cosmos.

From that position, we are made aware, if not thrilled, to then walk out to other humans and say, “I’m glad you’re here.” Nothing puts a chill of happiness down the spine of another person more than being appreciated for being included in our lives.

And then finally, having the confidence of our mirror face-off and the fellowship of sharing with another, we can look to the sky and tell our heavenly Father, “I’m glad You’re here. You don’t scare the crap out of me. You’re no longer quite as mysterious asYou once were. I notice my resemblance in You—and You in me.”

You can even tell as you read this that there’s a certain amount of joy that comes out of this experience. It gives us strength.

When we become acclimated to who we are so that we can at least start out with the confidence to make things better, we can allow more generosity to those we meet, thereby cutting them enough slack to be a little flawed, too, thus endowing us with us the courtesy to understand why God might have chosen to love everybody in the first place. (Because when some people read, “God loves the world,” I think they quietly wonder, “What in the hell is He thinking??” If you don’t understand God’s willingness to love people, it doesn’t exactly make you ready to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”)

We need joy. We need to be able to look in the mirror and say, “I’m glad you’re here.” We must come nose-to-nose with our brothers and sisters and pipe off with a jubilant, “I’m glad you’re here.” Ands then we can lift our eyes to the sky—with greater understanding—and chime, “I’m glad You’re here.”

So much thanks to the folks of Prescott, Wisconsin. They helped me better define an emotion which is really a spiritual necessity—one that offers the backbone to the body of faith. It is joy.

And in closing: I’m glad you’re here.

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
%d bloggers like this: