By Shelia Jones
I’m writing about joy, the real joy that comes from connectedness. So, do me a favor. Don’t read these words while alone. Go to a coffee house, your work lounge, a park, a busy street, a shopping center, or maybe together with your family.
Since I have limited words on this blog, let’s establish these foundational points:
- Joy is NOT an elusive emotion determined by circumstantial reactions.
- Joy is a truth. It’s a state of being: the confident assurance of Grace.
- Joy is as real as Jesus is in me.
For He is my Delight, and I am His.
That confirmed truth in my heart emits joy in any event, regardless of the emotion my flesh is expressing. I’m weeping over the grave of a beloved, yet joy assures my heart of a future glory reunion. My body ravaged by disease cries in agony, yet joy sings in my soul, He is good. I’m dancing in worship with thousands of believers while joy consumes my body with passion.
Like Jesus, joy is immutable. He had perfect joy dancing at a wedding, playing with children, laughing with His disciples, teaching the multitudes, rebuking the selfish religious, and enduring the cross.
No one suffered more than Jesus as He endured humankind’s sin while separated from the Father, yet He focused on the marriage feast, where His agony brings our greatest joy (Hebrews 12:2). Our unwavering confidence in Jesus allows a touch of future glory in the midst of earthly moments.
To say, “I’ve lost my joy,” is to say, “I’ve lost my focus.”
Picture your favorite dessert. For me joy is like an addictively delicious hot fudge sundae. The first bite ignites every cell in me to crave more. How could something be this satisfying? Yet it is, and every morning, it waits for me. The more I devour, the bigger it gets, until one day I realize there’s enough to fill the Grand Canyon.
As amazing as the image of diving into a canyon of sweet goodness is the realization that it’s always been there, can never be fully consumed, and is always enough to get through anything in every day—it just needs to be believed to be experienced.
How does the joy of the Lord become our grand desire?
First, look up.
Seriously, look up from the screen. The very instrument bringing these words may be the instrument keeping you from experiencing His joy.
How long were you away?
I hope more than a few minutes. Believe me, there’s more joy out there than here.
Did you see God?
Let’s try again. Look up and look around.
He’s there. He’s wooing the heart of the wayward, tendering the mind of the arrogant, soothing the wounds of the broken. He’s encouraging the tired mom calming her baby. He’s guiding the man struggling with the weight of the task. He’s protecting the children from flaming arrows.
If you can’t see Him, try this. Imagine Jesus walking the streets among the people of His time. He went into their homes, sat at the city’s gathering places, picnicked by the lake, and dined with friends and enemies. He looked for what the Father was doing and joined Him. He spoke directly the words the people needed to hear. He connected heaven with earth in every moment.
That same God is at work right where you are. What will Jesus say to the people around you? Who will He transform with His touch? What will He teach? What healing will He bring if only you will yield to His presence?
Believers who live in His presence (Act 2:24), pray, and hear His voice (John 16:24) will see God at work in everything and have the deepest, unwavering joy.
Believing the Omnipresent God is faithfully with you brings joy inexpressible. He heard the criticism directed at you. He’s turning your eyes from the porn you think no one sees. He feels the tears after the argument. He cheers when you excel. He whispers the perfect words when you’re telling others about Him. He’s reminding you of grace to turn from those sinful distractions and to look to Him. He’s calling you a mighty warrior as you lay prostrate before Him in prayer.
He’s yearning for you to experience Him in the moment, to delight in Him now.
Before we move on to the next point, let’s take a quiz. Did you really see evidence of the supernatural God at work in your moment?
If yes, then enjoy Him. In the Hebrew language, rejoice (gil) means “to twirl.” So, dance with delight. Express your joy. It’s contagious.
My friend Tiffany’s life includes a fulltime job, a disabled husband in constant pain, the busyness of a popular non-driving teenager, and too many tasks for each day. Yet, driving home from work, she prayed, and God spoke. He told her He’s working with a woman in that grocery store, and that she needed to stop, now, and join Him by buying her food. “Lord, how will I know which one?”
He pointed out a grandmother with a small child sitting in the cart among only a few items. Tiffany rushed to the counter, bought a gift card, and walked up to join Her Lord in that moment. “You don’t know me, but God told me to give you this.”
The grandmother’s story of a sickness, generational poverty, and weariness of soul ended with a joyous dance before an aisle of shoppers. Rejoice!
The past 30+ years, I’ve walked intimately with Him, hearing His voice, and twirling through many divine moments. Yet, there have been seasons when I’ve not believed He is who He says He is and does what He says He will do. I’ve quenched joy by not knowing God.
It’s no different than in Jesus’ day. Yahweh stood before them, speaking the words they’d memorized in their Holy Scripture, yet they refused to accept this man that didn’t fit their preconceived ideal of a Messiah.
The next step then is to: look deep.
If we knew that Jesus is the Logos, the word in flesh, then we’d turn from the never-ending media waves designed to stir discord. We’d spend that time reading our Bibles with a passion to see Him. Nothing compares to that moment with His Word leaps off the page into our hearts. Rejoice!
If we believed that Jesus is the Living Savior, then we’d expect the miraculous as He reveals Himself to the world. Like having our neighbors gather on our front porch just to ask about God. They marvel at the simplest things. “Why do you two get so involved with peoples’ problems?”
If we believed that His Spirit dwells within us, then we answer the neighbors with, “How can we not? If you’re living in His presence, you see what He sees, feel what He feels, and love like He loves.” Rejoice!
The number one enemy of joy, the greatest deflector of His presence, is the distractions of this world saying, “Look at me.” It’s not what’s happening in the White House; it’s what’s happening in our hearts, our homes. We don’t need more Google information; we need more Jesus.
Therefore, in this moment:
Look up desiring to see Jesus.
Look around and see Him at work in others.
Look deep to what is He asking you to believe.
Then twirl with delight and know He’s twirling with you.
Real joy connects heaven and earth by living in each moment with Jesus and others.
John says it like this. (1 John 1:1,4)
We saw him with our very own eyes. We gazed upon him and heard him speak. Our hands actually touched him, the one who was from the beginning, the Living Expression of God.
We are writing these things to you because we want to release to you our fullness of joy.
Joy’s acronym is Jesus, Others, You. Joy is connectedness. Let’s get out there and enjoy Him.