A visitor from Venus would analyze our world and decide that a lot of us are ready for the funny farm. I’m not talking about those crazed people who take guns and massacre others. I think there is something deeply devilish about them–something beyond insanity–motivating a lot of those people.
No, but of our visitor from outer space would think that a lot of us had a screw loose. Why? Well, have you ever caught yourself walking down the street when suddenly you burst out laughing? I have. One of the people I listen to on my IPod said something funny and I haw-hawed. But, does my neighbor know the reason for my outburst? He thinks I’m goofy.
And I see you there, near the bus stop, walking back and forth, waving your hands. You young ladies mew like kittens into thin air! And I want to call the looney wagon to pick you up and take you away before you hurt yourself or someone else.
Then suddenly, I realize that you’re talking on the telephone—hands free—while striding back and forth, elocuting like Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address. And I relax a little, but I still say to myself, “This is a strange world we’re living in.”
Most people must think the same of a joyful Christian. We’re not speaking about the version who talks about joy in the Lord and then lives life looking like he’s been baptized in lemon juice. We’re talking about a real joyful Christian who relishes the life that God has given him as a gift.
Let’s be honest. Most of us couldn’t be described as “joyful.” And honestly, some people who try to make us think they’ve got it together come off as plastic, false. But, I’ve known people who exuded the deep joy of the Lord in their lives.
Oh, they weren’t always giggling or even smiling but you could tell that at the center of their being they were drawing from the wells of salvation. My Mamaw Deloney was like that. Many times as she prayed I saw her weep for joy because of her love for the Lord. And that joy spilled over on us.
Considering the number of times that we’re commanded to be joyful in the Bible, we’ve got to ask ourselves why we’re such grouches. “I can’t make myself happy,” we warble.
It’s true. Bad situations, mood changes, and poor prospects can rob us of joy. But, it can only rob us of delight if our joy depends on our situation, our moods or our prospects. Joyful people, according to God’s definition, depend on something else to inspire their song.
Happy Paul uses the word “joy” or similar words over and over in the letter he wrote to the Philippians. And he was parked in a jail cell when he wrote it! So, how do he stay on top when he was on the bottom?
He did it on purpose or else he would have been miserable.
Believe it or not, it’s you and me who decide what we think about. It’s you and me who decide our attitude in life. Could I offer a couple of suggestions to help you live joyfully?
–>Remember how precious you are to the Lord. “For the LORD takes delight in His people …” (Psa 149:4, NIV) YOU give Him joy. If you’re a parent, a grandparent or someone madly in love, you understand this. The thought of that child that you love or the other person who has stolen your heart, fills you with joy.
Does it make you joyful to realize how very special you are to God? “Not me,” you intone. “I’m just not good enough.” I never loved my kids because they measured up. I loved them because they are my kids. It’s the same with God. If you could ever realize, then continue to remember, how much the Lord Jesus loves you, joy would explode in your heart like the most incredible Fourth of July fireworks display you ever saw.
–>If that’s not enough, remember that God, “… crowns the humble with salvation.” (Ps. 149:4, NIV). He saves us from sin and eternal punishment but His salvation extends to every area of our being. He forgives our sin, heals our body, loves us with everything He’s got, satisfies our desires, renews our strength and helps the oppressed. Read about all this in Psalms 103.
“But, I’ve got a problem,” you wail. (There you go again! Belly-aching). So do I, but my blessings outnumber my problems by far. We need to make a rule: don’t talk about your problems until you’ve praised God for each one of your blessings. If we did that, we’d never have time to get to our worries, because enumerating our blessings would take too long.
So, let’s let God make us into one of those crazy, joyful people who praise Him all the time. If we do that, we won’t even need an ipod or a cell phone to make people wonder what’s wrong with us. The joyful life we live will puzzle them—and draw them to Jesus.
Trust allows time to mature the story into something tangible. Jeremy Stratton