My eyes ached from night full of trying to sleep. Caffiene. Upbeat music. Nothing was working. I was just flat tired. And today, I couldn’t be. Today was a big day. Still there I sat, my eyes half-open (or half-closed?), wishing for sleep and trying to recalculate my day subtracting chores and adding in a nap.
Their screams echoed off the walls. Bouncing down the hall, around the corners on the stairs and into my ears. “YAY!! SCHOOL!!” The excitement in the house was palable. Kids screaming through the upstairs hallways. The dogs begin running from window to window barking and carrying on, because surely if the kids are screaming there is something out there to bark at.
It was contagious.
I ran upstairs, got dressed, and grabbed the camera. Time to start our school year. It is a time to be excited.
And as we began our year, full of excitement and chatter I was aware that my day had been salvaged by my children. That their attitudes changed my attitude. This breathing in and exhaling (oh, and screaming) of joy was contagious.
How often do I do that?? How often do I find the joy in the moment, not just to suck every last drop of its marrow, but to share it? To proclaim it? Probably not often enough.
Joy is not meant to be hoarded or hidden. Joy is love. Joy is light. Joy is God. Joy is manna. Falling fresh from heaven’s storehouses on a world caught up in the everydayness of live.
Do you know that the word rejoice appears in the Bible 155 times? (give or take depending on your translation). Rejoice an outward expression of joy. To show joy. To live joy. To show the joy of the Lord. To live the joy of the Lord!
Why rejoice? Because it shows an outward expression of joy. This is more than a smile in the mirror. It is smile that shines light into the sphere of others. It is a shriek of delight that moves a mama off a couch. It is a bright red, blinking neon arrow that tells the world to look up at the one who is showering His grace. Christians should be joyful. We have an empty cross. An empty tomb. A Savior sitting in heaven. We have the joy of Christ!!
That outward expression of joy that we share does something else. It is pure and loving worship of a Lord who came so that we would spend eternity praising and living in love. Love that is light. Love that is joy. Forever.
It is choice. This joy. Daily. Moment to moment choice.
People often say the rudest things to me (ask my husband, it is amazing the mean things I have heard from complete strangers), and I have had to learn to choose joy. Not just to not react or say something equally ugly, but I have to leave it there not carry it with me. Because carrying that ugliness lets it fester and boil until it becomes something dark and sinful. I don’t get my joy from what others think of me, my life, or my family…and I have to choose to remember that and live that way.
I don’t get my joy from what size jeans I wear (although, I must say a pair straight out of the dryer that slides on does add to my smile!), for God doesn’t care what size I am just the depth of my love and faith.
And hardest of all to live and grasp, my joy does not come from my circumstance. Whether it is just a day that goes badly or the trials of life that come in the shape of death, despair, grief, loss and more…joy doesn’t start there or end there. It comes from God. God’s love for me and Jesus’ hand on my heart…that is where joy starts and ends. And in the heaviest moments of life it is hard to find that light and live it. That’s where friends, family, and even small shrieking children come in.
If we are shining our light into this world it becomes a beakon, not only to the who are searching for or don’t even know they need God, but to those who know Christ and are mired in the circumstances that take our breath away. Our joy can remind them of His joy. And as Nehemiah said, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10)
So today, as I sit, still tired and trudging through the day that didn’t look promising from the outset, I am choosing joy. I am not sure I’ll be shrieking through the halls (but who knows the day is far from over), but I will choose to smile, remind myself of the Lord’s kindness and dwell in that happy thought. From there perhaps I can cast a happy light into the life of another…and another…and another.