“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:10-11 (NIV)
Grace and Joy to you on this Advent weekend!
Joy is a distinctive mark of those who would follow Jesus.
I am joyful today because it snowed all day. We have over six inches of fluffy white stuff and it is still coming down. I got to take the dog out for a short walk, went out a few times to care for my chickens, and then spent quite awhile helping my neighbor try to get unstuck (he drove off his driveway). It is so beautiful, so clean, so pure. The first snowfall is always exciting. We have been decorating the house for Christmas so it has been a great day. I have a deep feeling of joy.
On Friday night we had another great time of joy at our house church. Nine of us were there and we have been together for quite some time. We laughed a lot. We laughed hard. It was so good. This is about the third week in a row that we have just enjoyed being together, praying together, discussing the gospel of John together, eating together. It really was a joyful time.
The thing is, with Jesus followers, joy is not just a feeling that comes and goes. Joy is deep, abiding, and exists regardless of the circumstances surrounding our lives. So we can be joyful at snowfalls and gatherings with friends and family and we can be joyful when we are spending our first Christmas without a loved one who passed away since last year or when we have lost our job or even feel alone.
This is possible because when we follow Jesus, he promises that His joy is in us and he will make it complete as we continue to follow him and love him.
So, simply, if you want joy; deep, abiding joy, begin following Jesus more closely. Ask him to fill you with his joy (and love). And see if simple things like snowfalls and friends gathering don’t take on a new feeling of joyful wholeness. And see if the pain and grief of your past isn’t soothed in a way that helps you move on with new hope…and joy!
God of laughter, fill us with the joy of Jesus as we make decisions to follow him more closely this Advent and the rest of our lives. Amen.