Growing Into Joy….

From early childhood I knew from voluminous reading that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow and that when my prince came I would live happily ever after – after the period of ‘once upon a time’ had ended.

To further my thinking toward this fairy tale existence, Mother let me go see The Blue Bird of Happiness movie when I was about eleven years old. Walking home, singing the song, I looked in every tree and every bush for that mythical blue bird. That blue bird didn’t appear anywhere, but I kept singing… and looking.

So be like I, hold your head up high, ‘Til you find the blue bird of happiness.

You will find greater peace of mind … Knowing there is a blue bird of happiness.

Then came the Wizard of Oz with the beautiful song….

Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high.There’s a land that I’ve heard of, once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true....

Story books, fairy tales and wistful lyrics of songs, do not help anyone to find the elusive happiness.

First there were the growing pains. When I complained about the pain in my legs, the doctor did not diagnose, but my mother did, “Oh, you have growing pains!”

So many seasons and places to experience growing pains. And the pain is not always physical, but emotional, spiritual and the mental anguish. Fear of the unknown, not fitting in, learning obedience, learning to sustain relationships can certainly cause mental and emotional anguish during the teens.

Learning to make wise and informed choices circumvents a lot of growing pains. The impatience of youth and rebellion reaps a harvest of unwanted growing pains and unwanted consequences. And those growing pains and consequences stunt the growth into Joy often without our understanding.

Vacations were scarce in our growing up days, but one day we decided to drive to Pike’s Peak in Colorado in our 1936 Ford – traveling from Clinton, Oklahoma. My two brothers and I always wanted the ‘window seats’, and on the day that we began the ascent, I had the window seat. I prayed and cried most of the way to the top. Peering down the side of the road from the ‘window seat’ and I could see us plunging down the mountain to the deep valley below. It was a long drive, or so it seemed before we arrived safely at the top. Our family exited the trusty Ford and we all looked around. Such a vista so near to heaven thrilled me. “Mom, let’s build a house up here and stay forever!”

I felt such a peace and joy – I learned then that achieving something brings joy. Joy comes from the ‘growing pain’ of joy.

When I listened last Sunday to Colossians 1:3-5 – I learned that there are three characteristics necessary to help us through the growing pains to that ultimate desire of peace and joy! We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.

I Corinthians 13:13 says it this way – And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Some of my favorite expressions of joy come from the Psalms:

  • Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy – Psalm 96:12
  • Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music…..Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy. Psalm 98:4,8

If ‘Joy happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are‘, then we recognize and praise our God from Whom comes all things. Just as God’s creation praises God, we recognize and praise God with lives of thanksgiving.

Only then can we ‘grow into Joy!’ Only then can we see that joy and happiness doesn’t come from possessing things but giving. Joy comes from being God’s and not swayed by the word’s thinking. ‘Growing into Joy‘, climbing Pike’s Peak, never stops until we draw our last breath.

We can begin that process of Growing into Joy with gratitude. It has been said, “Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.”

‘Thank’ your way into Growing into Joy!

Comments? eacombs@att.net