Tuesday, December 21, 2004

taking the joy with us (a short reflection)

This little piece is over four years old now (I refer to Meaghan as being just three years old in it!), but I thought I'd share it with you anyway. Sort of a "blast from the past." Enjoy. --Troy

We love Christmas time at our house. We deck out our home with beautiful things: candles, lights, stockings, an advent wreath, garlands, dishes, special table cloths, a tree, ornaments, and other little collectibles. One such trinket is a little wooden cutout that sits on a shelf that becomes transformed at Christmas time. The cutout reads in red, green and white: “JOY”.

Now, keeping our decorations in order is a never-ending struggle, given the fact that we have two little children, ages 3 years and 10 months, traipsing about the house. We constantly reprimand them with words like:

“No, don’t touch!”
“Oh, no, you don’t!”
“That’s radioactive. You’ll get dead from that.”

One day we were sitting down to breakfast and Meaghan, our 3 year old, got down momentarily from the table to look at something. She walked over to the shelf and picked up the aforementioned wood cutout: “JOY”. She looked at it for a little bit, and then, because I had more important things to get to in the day, I asked Meaghan to come finish her breakfast. She didn’t come right away, so I thought I’d be a bit more firm with her. Then, I heard myself utter the words: “Meaghan put the JOY down and get over here and finish your oatmeal!” Fortunately, we could laugh about it then. But, reflecting back on this experience has got me to thinking…

When God, our Father, asks us to come to Him and obey Him, He never asks us to leave behind our joy. In fact, it is in coming to Him and walking in His ways that we find our joy. That’s what the Bible is talking about when it says that the fruit of the Spirit is joy (Galatians 5:22). Now, this means a lot of things, but one thing it definitely means is this: when we walk with the Spirit of God, (that is, when we walk in a way that God wants us to walk) joy is a by-product. This is good news to my ears, because it means that I don’t have to choose between following God and being joyful. Often, we think of following God as a task, a chore, something that will ultimately make us miserable or spoil our fun, but the Bible says that obeying God is actually our source of joy. So, “Pick the joy up and come over here!”

“…his commands are not burdensome.” I John 5:3b

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