Daily Devotion - Monday, December 14, 2015
This is the third week of the season of Advent. Throughout the season of Advent we'll be focusing on what it means to be full of expectation and anticipation during this blessed time of year. We'll also be lifting up the various weekly themes of Advent, corresponding to the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. This week our theme is "Joy."
When I was a kid we used to sing this simple little song in Sunday school that has stuck with me all these many years later. It went a little something like this:
"I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (WHERE?) Down in my heart (WHERE?) down in my heart. I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay... And I'm so happy, so very happy..."
The question "Where?" in parentheses in all caps indicates the portion of the song when we would all shout at the top of our lungs. Seriously, you cannot sing that song (shouting at the appropriate moments, of course) without feeling some measure of joy down in your heart.
Whenever our children's choir sings at church, the songs they seem to enjoy the most are the ones where they get to sing easy-to-remember-lyrics at the top of their lungs, maybe even shout a bit, and do something a bit silly--all at a very high volume.
Maybe I'm reading into this a bit, but I wonder if the reason they get so much joy out of singing and shouting is because they are being told most of the time to quiet down and act civilized. Do you think their joy comes from the fact that they are finally being encouraged to be themselves, to let it all hang out?
Can you connect with that feeling at all? Remember what it was like when you were always being told to color inside the lines, to keep your hands to yourself, to be seen and not heard...? When you got a moment to just be a kid you took it didn't you? You would shout at the top of your lungs, sing off key, clap your hands and grin like a monkey.
At some point as we grow up, I think we get worn down, and we start to lose our ability to push back against the naysayers and joy-stealers. In Psalm 42, the poet cries out to God in a moment when he longs to feel joy, to experience God, but instead seems surrounded by people who are grinding him down:
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
Don't let the joy-stealers of this world suck the life out of you. You were meant to sing and to shout your song at the top of your lungs--to live your life out loud, and share your gifts with the world. The reason why the joy-stealers come out in force when you sing your song is because they've forgotten how to sing, and it terrifies them.
Jesus once said, "The thief only comes to kill and destroy, but I came so they may have life in abundance." Joy-stealers are thieves, plain and simple, and they don't have your best interests at heart despite what they tell you. They are to be pitied at most, but never listened to, never heeded. Instead, put your faith and trust in Jesus, who came to give you a full and expansive life of joy.
May you sing and shout your song of joy with all your might today and every day. May you be filled with the abundant life that comes from fully embracing Jesus and following him intently. May you have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart. And may the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you today and always. Amen.