Christians trying to win the race in which we have been entered is a tough job. We are, after all, following in the footsteps of the Perfect One. How do we do it? It’s easy enough to write things like read your Bible, pray a lot, and surround yourself with those who also seek God’s truth and not our own, but it is definitely much harder to put these things into practice.
But as I write about these weighty matters, I think I forget a very crucial element in this important race. What about the gift of joy in our race to perfection? I once read that God is not so much interested in our happiness as our salvation. But once we have accepted salvation, we have every right to grasp the joy of that truth. In fact, some days it is only the joy of belief in Christ that keeps us from utter defeat.
This week, I’m reminded that in the midst of trying so hard to serve God well, we can often forget to embrace the joy that is ours to be had through our faith in Christ. Personally, I have many reasons to be joyful. I have been blessed by a loving family and wonderful friends. I have managed to survive the health and emotional challenges that have come my way. I have had just enough challenges in life to really understand just how wonderful a normal, non-challenged day truly is.
When I was growing up, sermons seemed to be a lot about the fire and brimstone consequences of not following God’s word. Today, some churches have teetered so far to the other end of the pendulum, that I wonder if they even remember the consequences part of following Jesus. Surely, there is some cuddly place in the middle where we can find space to celebrate God and fear Him at the same time. Fear of Him, after all, is the beginning of wisdom.
But, we are talking about joy in God. Living in the big city, getting close to nature is sometimes hard to do, and I think that nature is where we feel God best. At least, I find my greatest peace often comes on a bright day, with a baby blue sky and a cool breeze. I take a deep, wonderful breath, and I feel the power of the Almighty all around me. I know He is God then.
It’s a bit harder to take a deep breath crammed in line at the supermarket, surrounded by overworked people in a hurry just trying to survive in this hustle-bustle world. But it shouldn’t be. I should be joyful just about all the time. I have God in my life. He looks out for every hair on my head. Even the bad things that happen to me, He will work to the good. Does anything else really matter?
So, remember to smile today. Even if you don’t feel like it. Especially if you don’t feel like it. You’ll find that just in the very act of smiling, you’ll start feeling better. And smiles are contagious. Pass it around. Joy in Him is truly joy to the world.