I remember the first time Caroline ate blueberry pancakes. Sitting in a high chair at the grandparents, she grabbed fistfuls and shoveled them in. With gusto. Then, she caught me watching (camera in hand) and broke into full-on squeals of delight in the midst of a purply mess.
Joy snuck up on us, turning breakfast time into party time.
I’ve been looking for more of those joyful moments lately. In fact, I’ve put myself on a Joy30, spending the 30 days of April asking God to show me what it means to be
filled with joy,
strengthened by joy,
completed in joy,
led by joy, and
clothed with joy.
But what I’ve discovered this first week of Joy30 is that we have to open ourselves up to being found by joy, to allow it to sneak up in a surprise attack. Like right now.
I’m sitting here at my kitchen table at 7:45pm writing away, but I’ve just caught a glimpse of pink and orange out the window, a sunset worth running out the back door to see. And so I run.
That sky-painting may have been framed by a telephone pole, a misshapen palm tree, and my neighbor’s roof, but it was still the joy of creation on display, prompting me to rejoice that I glanced up from my screen. Joy found me and moved me to gratitude that I hold within me a capacity for delight, happiness, pleasure, wonder.
What I’m finding in God’s word is that His joy and delight are woven into the fabric of His creation. Proverbs 8, a poem personifying Divine Wisdom, says this about the birth of the universe:
“Then I [Divine Wisdom] was constantly at His side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in His presence, rejoicing in His whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Proverbs 8:30-31)
Elsewhere in the book of Job, God says that while He laid the foundations of the earth, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” (Job 38:6-7)
Even the sun “runs its course with joy” (Ps 19:5) and the trees “sing for joy” (Ps 96:12). Is it any wonder then that we, who were created in joy and delight, sometimes feel the urge to break out in a dance party over glimpsed sunsets and gleeful tots? Our souls crave joy because it’s encoded in us.
Why, then, don’t we stay in that place of joy? When joy finds us, why do we get lost again? Something else became encoded in us after creation, when the first humans turned their backs on the Creator of Joy in order to find fulfillment on their own terms. Sin and death entered because of disobedience, and since then not only humans but the “whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up the present time” (Rom 8:22). That we experience joy at all in a world where great cruelty and destruction exist is a testament to God’s mercy and grace.
I believe He allows us those simple joys, too, so we’ll yearn for a deeper joy. Psalm 16:11 sums it up: In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
As I continue forward with this Joy30, then, I will not only stay open to the joy around me, I will stay open to the joyful presence of God. Find me, Lord Jesus!