Daily Devotion - Thursday, December 17, 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."
Just the other day my wife and I took our two youngest sons to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a special Christmas event. My littlest boy is five years old, which is just about the perfect age to enjoy things like special Christmas events at the Magic Kingdom.
As we were leaving to go home at the end of the night, we were walking down the Magic Kingdom's Main Street, USA, which was decorated beautifully for Christmas. Suddenly we realized that it was snowing. Somehow Disney had figured out how to make it look like it was snowing, using some kind of harmless soap. It looked about as real as you could get without being the real thing, and I should know because I grew up in Colorado and spent over four years living in Chicago.
My little boy began running through the street with his arms raised in the air. He jumped around like a rabbit, trying to catch the "snowflakes." He grinned from ear to ear and his face shone with glee. "It's snowing, Daddy!" he shouted. "It's snowing! It's snowing!"
A rush of emotions washed over me at that moment. I found myself grinning from ear to ear, too, as I watched him leap and run and laugh with joy. And then I felt something I didn't expect: Gratitude. It was odd, but I was grateful to Disney, and for the moment of wonder and joy they had created for my son.
I'd definitely paid for that moment to occur, mind you. An evening at Disney is not cheap. But still... I was grateful. And my feeling of gratitude made me think about the whole moment a bit differently. I realized it was all a gift from God, and I had the overwhelming sensation that God was actually laughing, dancing and chasing snowflakes with us.
I don't think we thank God enough for the joyful moments. It's true, most of us typically go to God when we're struggling, or in need. And when we do pause to give thanks it's usually before a meal or in the context of a church service. But when feelings of joy wash over us, how often do we declare our thanks to the One who filled us with the capacity for joy, and who created the space for that moment of joyfulness to occur?
And how often do we realize his presence in those moments of joy?
I hope that my little boy remembers that moment for the rest of his life. Or at least the feeling that he felt then, which was pure, unadulterated joy. And I hope that I can always remember the lesson I was reminded of that evening. The same God who is with us in the worst moments of our lives, when all seems lost and we are deep in sorrow---that same God is also with us in our moments of joy, celebrating at our side.
May you be overwhelmed with joy today, and the very presence of our playful and joyous God, who loves to hear our laughter, our delight and our joyous prayers of thanksgiving. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.