Joy in the Midst of Life

Yesterday I was out running errands with Miles.  "Jeez, it's hot today," I said, expecting the normal, exasperated  Texas response.  No such luck with Miles: "Of course it's hot, Dad.  It's summer."  I wanted to ground him immediately for his lack of compassion, but decided not to.  We all know it's hot, sooner than it should be, and there's little we can do about it.  Overly optimistic weather folk on TV try to make us feel better by throwing in a 10-20% chance of rain, but we know the sad truth: it will be hot nearly every day until around Lord's Acre, mid-October. 

I own three watches: one black, one silver and gold colored, and one brown.  The two latter watches are older than the black one.  A few years ago Christy bought a lifetime battery renewal plan for those two watches, and I guess the watch batteries we get are really, really cheap, because they seem to go out every two months or so.  I was on my way in to the jewelry store recently when I noticed the silver one's problem wasn't the battery-- it was the #9.  It had come detached from the watch's face and stuck to the second hand, holding it in place.  After much shaking and distorting my wrist (hello, future corpal-tunnel syndrome!) the #9 fell to the bottom of the face and the second hand began to move again.  So if you see my violently shaking my wrist one day, you'll know why-- every now and then #9 messes up my life again.

Life is kind of like that, isn't it?  Sometimes the expected happens-- of course it's hot in the summer-- but the expected is still too powerful that it overwhelms us.  Or we're surprised by life's unexpected quirks-- no one can plan for the day their #9 will fall out of place and freeze time. 

Last Sunday we started a new study group: SMS (Sunday Morning Study).  We're looking at Paul's letter to the Philippians, which was written while the apostle was in prison.  The theme of the letter is joy.  Now there's a surprise.  If I had said the theme of the letter is anxiety or bitterness or loneliness you may have pulled a Miles and said, "Of course, Pastor Frank.  The guy's in prison."  But the letter is about joy!  The Joy of being a disciple of Christ!  The Joy of being a part of loving congregation!  The Joy of serving others!  The Joy of the Christian life!

No matter what life throws at us, we should do our best to respond with joy.  Joy in the heat.  Joy in the messed up watches.  Joy in the piles of laundry.  Joy in the workplace.  Joy in traffic.  Joy in change.  Joy in new things and ordinary things and old things.  Joy in every thing.

The next time my watch freezes in time I'm going to remember to live with joy.  The next time I go outside and it is oppressively hot I will do my best to respond with joy-- this will be a true test of faith, because NO ONE complains about Texas heat as much as me-- and I've lived in it forever, so I've earned the right.  Whatever happens to you this week-- expected or unexpected-- try to respond with joy.  See what happens.

Last week at VBS my duty was story time with the little ones-- 4 years and under.  Before the story we'd sing chapel songs, one of which starts with these words: "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart."  Let's not leave that joy down in our hearts all the time-- the world needs your joy.  So let it out!  Share it!  "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4). 


Anne said…
Love. this. post! I need to find the joy more in everyday situations. Thanks for the reminder!
Anonymous said…
good one! I experienced an unexpected "joy" a couple of days ago. We were on our way to LJ to see Toy Story...middle of the afternoon...1000degrees...about half way there; smoke or steam began billowing out from under the hood of the car...all of the "engine hot" lights began to flash. We pulled over, opened the hood and found that the radiator had two cracks in it. It only cost $500.00 to replace the radiator. Not an expense I was expecting to have, but could have been much worse! The joy came from the fact that only a few days earlier, I had driven to Palestine to pick up the camp kids...what a joyful blessing it didn't happen then! yep...there was joy, joy, joy in my heart!

On Father's day, Memaw was on me again about getting a new car..."it's too old, you've been driving it a long time, you are always going and are going to break down on the road somewhere, etc. etc". Two days happens. Although, I certainly ascribe to the fact that "mothers are always right"...once again it has been proven to me! lol I am now looking at new
Anonymous said…
Frank - Nice message. Katie was asked one day why she was always so “happy”. Her response was that she was NOT always happy but that she tried to be joyful no matter the circumstances. It may be semantics but seems to me that JOY (1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires) has to be rooted in Christ while HAPPINESS is 2 a : a state of well-being and contentment : b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

I would say that hot Texas weather is nothing to be HAPPY about – it is not a pleasurable experience……..but that doesn’t mean we cannot be JOYful in our interactions with others in the midst of the HOT weather!!

We’re on the same page – just thought I’d add a little twist to your message! Have a JOY-filled day!!