“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
I had my devotion all set in my head this morning. However, I saw something on the way to work that I just had to share.
The road I take to work is what we in Alabama call a backroad. Not a major highway, just a small two-lane road that meanders its way through woods.
So I set out for work; weary, sad, and just trying to make it through the day. And God reached down and touched my heart with a sprinkling of pure joy, a manifestation of His unending grace toward me.
I saw coming toward me a really big truck. You know the kind that are common to this part of the country, the kind with tires taller than me. As I watched this monster come roaring toward me, I noticed something flicker outside of the driver’s window.
“That person better not be throwing trash out their window,” I thought. Because I was just in the right mood to take on anyone driving that behemoth. After all, diligent members of my church family routinely go out and clean up the trash people throw on to the road. I was ready to confront the offenders.
But upon further study, I noticed that the image flowing out of that window was not trash at all. As I peered into the cab of the truck, I could see that it was occupied by two nuns, fully dressed in their habits which were blowing in the breeze of the windows.
As they flew past me with their engine roaring and their big tires churning, I noticed that they were both cackling at the tops of their lungs! Picture it friends, can you imagine such a sight??
Now I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t fit the picture I have in my head of how nuns normally live. I don’t actually know any, but I tend to think more of quiet, prayerful people living in stone fortresses rather than rip-roaring partiers roaming the backwoods of Alabama. I mean, they aren’t supposed to be having that much fun are they?
But what I realized in that brief, precious encounter was that, yes indeed, they were supposed to be having that much fun. My heart was lifted in those few seconds and a smile spread to my face as I recalled the wonderful promise Jesus gave us in John chapter 15: Your joy will overflow. What a fantastic reminder!
I think sometimes we followers of the Way get it wrong. Somewhere through the ages, we got the idea that following God meant solemnity at all times and piety at all costs. Somewhere along the way, Christianity got tagged as a lifestyle with no parties, no laughter, and nothing else that might cause enjoyment. (I think it might have happened in the dark ages.)
But on this glorious spring day my friends, let us remember that Jesus went to parties. Jesus had friends and deep relationships. Jesus even drank wine. So I am sure that He also laughed and experienced great joy. And He promised to fill us completely with His joy through the Holy Spirit. We need to embrace that fact and learn to live in a joyful state of mind while worshiping God instead of feeling guilty about it.
There are times, like today, that I don’t feel much joy. However, I am reminded that I have much more in my life to celebrate than to lament. All I have to do is stay connected to the source of that divine joy. All I have to do, is turn myself over to His tender mercies and He fills me with His presence and His joy. All for free. Just because I am His beloved.
Praise God, the Father, who continues to flow grace over me and show me the real way to live. And may He abundantly bless the nuns in the monster truck who showed up at the right time to lead me into abounding laughter.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit I pray.