“You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’” (Acts 2:28, NLT)
God is absolute joy! The scriptures assure that his strength is our joy. He is the source of joy and gives us joy from out of his very being! “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10, NLT)
God rejoices in all that he has made! We glimpse the glories of heaven when see those things we see but never really see. Remember the source of these. The beam of moonlight, a shaft of sunlight, the feel of a flannel shirt, the breeze on our face, smell the fragrance of a peach all the “little things” that are glimpses of heaven. He rejoices in flowers in fields that no human being ever sees, the darting of fish in oceans that we never see.
We plant a few beautiful flowers in our lawns and city parks. We build little aquariums in our homes and delight in them and look with wonder at a huge one like Atlanta’s beautiful aquarium. They are just tiny glimpses. But God sees and rejoices in it all.
He is joyful but he also wants us to share and be filled with his joy. Jesus began his ministry with these joyful and happy words. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,” (Luke 4:18, NLT)
To the observant man or woman, we see reflections of the glory of God manifested in pleasure. In those sweet moments of pleasure, I see, hear, and smell heaven’s joy.
C. S. Lewis taught me to understand this in his books. Patience please, while I remember just a few. Dancing with Becky in moonlight; listening to her play her piano in the evenings; listening to our children laugh and play; snorkeling in the Bahamas on a colorful reef; skiing powder down a snowy mountain and feeling the rush of the wind; walking forest trails in Michigan during the fall; sitting beneath a waterfall on a hot day; laying on cool grass and watching the clouds; feeling the pleasure of a long run; those moments when we are singing together in church; that moment when I see someone come to faith in Christ; and seeing someone get it (that’s always a cool moment). I fear I am trying your patience with my reflections rapidly flooding memory. I love the moments of play around our kitchen table playing Uno or Chicken Foot; the smell of cup of Ethiopian coffee and the memories of coffee roasters in Addiss Ababa; and the fragrance of apples, peaches, or pecans and the orchards that they bring back to memory. Okay, I’ll stop. These are reminders that these pleasures find their source in our Creator God, our Heavenly Father, who gives us every good gift!
C. S. Lewis wrote this famous sentence to his friend Malcolm, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” “No, Malcolm. It is only in our “hours-off,” only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for “down here” is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Lewis, C. S. (2002-11-04). Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (pp. 92-93). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
This world is broken by our sin. The pain of suffering, death, disease, betrayals, and depression are part of the story of life. I’m so grateful in this world of suffering the joy of God breaks through filling our hearts and giving us strength to overcome the dejection and sadness. The joy that gives us strength and makes the church happy, joyful, blessed, beautiful in service and not the long faced sour pusses that some think that Christians are. We are blessed and joyful beyond measure if we look to Him as the source of life and joy! His life, death and resurrection have secured our hope and eternal joy! Christ’s invitation to believe Him and follow him.
Peace and JOY!