by Joanne Thompson
Joanne reflects on the Amazing Joy we experience when we choose to follow Jesus!
“Do we or don’t we?” That question danced around the edges of my mind for weeks. I so wanted to celebrate our grandson Noah’s High School graduation in Texas. Though we knew attending the ceremony wasn’t an option (restricted tickets because of Covid ), my compelling desire was to be with the family. So YES, I pushed through my fears to make reservations.
Our daughter’s white Suburban pulled up to the airport’s arrival lane with only seven-year-old Ellie. (So typical! Teenagers are done with airport trips for grandparents.) I scooted close to Ellie in the back seat and with the sweetest dimpled grin she said, “This is so much better than Facetime!” Oh, that girl’s words melted my heart! Not only was she revealing her desire. (She wanted me!) She was describing my desire for that deep joy of face-to-face time together.
All image-bearers (from little girls to grandmas) crave the connection of the joyful presence of another. For sure, I was chasing joy when I got on that airplane.
Our faith walk with Jesus is a path that leads to outrageous joy in the presence of Christ, eternally! Though our 2020 world is filled with trials and struggles, Jesus clearly doesn’t want us to be devoid of joy now. He isn’t asking us to hold our breath ‘til heaven! But we need to pay attention to the path that provides that here-and-now-joy. Listen to Jesus: “I have told you these things so that MY JOY maybe in you and YOUR JOY may be complete.” What are these things?
The “these things” Jesus refers to is REMAINING in his LOVE. Jesus talks about it over and over. (Read John 15.) The LORD’S divine design goes like this: His love produces our joy. Our job is one thing: REMAIN! In the midst of frustration, fatigue, fear and anger that storm our hearts, we need to choose mindfulness that there is more love coming our way today from Jesus. Look for it. Receive it. Remain in it. Choose this practice daily. But how? Here is where Jesus goes “counter-cultural” with the world’s thinking.
He said, “If you obey my commands, you remain in my love.”
Don’t let the enemy deceive you into thinking that obeying Jesus is dutiful drudgery with no reward.
Don’t let the enemy accuse you with inevitable daily failures.
Reframe each day with wisdom: Obeying Jesus is chasing joy! The “have to” transforms into a “want to” as we learn to respond to the faithful, whispered prompts of the Holy Spirit. My prayer for all of us is that as we pay attention to those “little prompts” we will notice our joy grow.
As the Psalmist wrote: “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32).