Lee Younger (via leeyounger)
Joy. The one common refrain throughout this holiday season.
“JOY to the world!”
“JOY what JOY!”
"I bring tidings of great JOY and peace”
“Re-JOY-ce! Emmanuel has come to thee oh Israel”
"Repeat the sounding JOY”
With all the emphasis on joy, why is it that I often find myself most unhappy, most unsatisfied, and least optimistic at Christmas time? Not just in the material sense either. Yes I’d like a new car, a ski trip to Colorado, or even enough gas money to see my friends across the state; but often the dissatisfaction runs deeper than that. When school is over and friends go home for the holidays you can always count on several things to happen: social media will be flooded with pictures of seemingly perfect families, people you went to high school with all of a sudden reappear and let you know how they got into their first choice medical school or have an internship lined up following graduation or have gotten engaged to the most perfect person ever, your bank account slowly dries up, and family you spend the better part of 51 weeks out of the year trying to avoid are all of a sudden in your house asking 21 questions about school, your significant other (or lack thereof) and all of the life you are all of a sudden so disenchanted with. Sounds like some Spanish Inquisition era form of torture doesn’t it?
So in the middle of this torture how do we capture the joy of the first Christmas? How do we encounter God in a fresh way that trumps all the disappointments of this world?
What I have come to find is that there is no “fresh” way to do so. The only way to go about it is to get back to the grassroots of what this whole thing is about. As my good friend David Freels tweeted,
"I always imagine what Heaven was like about this time 2000 years go. I picture Allied HQ just before the planes took off on D-Day."
If you think about it, that might not even be an accurate depiction of the gravity of the situation 2000 and some odd years ago. God wasn’t just about to commission the single largest amphibious assault and invasion in human military history, he was preparing to send his only begotten son behind enemy lines to defeat the curse of sin and forever lay claim to victory over death. And he wasn’t about to do so because he was obligated to or because he was so fed up with the human race for getting it wrong for so long. He did it out of one thing and one thing only…LOVE.
Because of love we are freed from the oppression of sin. No longer are we bound by the yoke of this world! No longer are we defined by arbitrary measures of a “good” life as defined by our successes, luxuries, and status. God has broken the silence between him and his people and has made a way into his courts that we may approach him in full confidence knowing that our sin and rebellion has been irrevocably nullified by his love.
Rediscovering the love of God is like finding that one t-shirt that you have been missing. You probably forgot all about it being in your drawers until you happen upon it and then you realize how much you have actually missed it.
The thing about this joy is, unlike fruit cakes and pumpkin spice lattes, it is made available to us the whole year round. We can rediscover this love any time we need it, and if we don’t sing of it field, floods, rocks, hills, and plains will repeat it for us. So this Christmas if you find yourself in the doldrums, as I often do, do yourself a favor and repeat the sounding joy. Let your heart be filled with the love of an infinite God who chose to make himself finite in order to show you that, no matter your circumstances, the fight for your ultimate joy has already been fought and won. Again, repeat the sounding joy.
We, as a society, place a dangerous amount of pressure on young people to hurry up and pick what they want to be. And then, we tell them to experience as little of life as possible, with their head stuck in a book, as a way of making this decision.
We say, pick your calling, your profession, and your spouse, and figure all that out with as little fooling about as possible. We’re told to be stable and steady. There may be serious consequences to making changes!
While I discovered that it’s extremely important to be reliable and trustworthy, and to follow through on your commitments, it’s not important to pick one thing and stick with it. You’re better off dating a few different kinds of people, volunteering for different kinds of ministries, and even dressing in some different ways, to get a sense of who you are, and who you want to become.