Saturday, May 16, 2015

January 29, 2013 Unexpected Joy




These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:11
Have you ever noticed the underlying theme of joy in the Bible? I mean, yes, there is lots about joy that you probably remember from Sunday school, but joy pops up in such unexpected places. For example, take Colossians 1:11:

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,...."

This is a letter from a guy in jail, right? He is writing not to plead for help, not to demand that they come and take care of him, not to ask that God please hurry up and get him out.... And he was inspired to write this stuff when he's sitting in the cell. No whining. He is praying that these people remember this awesome thing that has happened, that they strive to walk in Christ, that they remember and never forget. And that phrase "with joy" is tacked on there at the end. No big deal. But he is asking, praying that the people will gain God's power not in order to overthrow their worldly enemies, but to ask for God's strength for the people to endure with patience. Was there a need to throw those last two words in there? Yes. Those two words are an incredible gift of God's grace. We do not have to just endure with patience. If we are in Christ, we receive joy NOW. Not later in heaven. Not after we get through our busy week. Not just in church. Not when we feel great. Now. Now in the moment, the dirty, painful, exhausted moment, we find that true joy. The joy that wells up when all else seems dark - it is a miracle, that light that wells up in the blackness where before there was nothing.

What does this have to do with a photo of a cat? Seeing that silly girl in her favorite pose with crossed legs on an old abandoned office chair (that is one of our main living room chairs right now) brought me great joy. Just a little sunshine - a cat that chooses to be happy in an uncomfortable position. She is not waiting for us to buy her a soft warm blanket. She is not wondering where her next meal is coming from. She is not complaining about the cold concrete floors. She is in the now, happy with what she has, wedged into that chair between the cushion and the hard place. She is not making a list of problems, or solutions, or things to do. And she is not just sitting there. She is purring with joy.

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