What Is This Thing Called Joy?

As the anxieties of life deepen with age for me, I remember my Mother.  She didn’t particularly like jokes, rarely laughed when I told her one.  But her eyes sparkled with joy when she beheld produce and flowers from her garden, watched a Martin Bird fly over, finished a poem or saw one of her children or grandchildren succeed.  I have seen her jump up and down like a little girl when she was in her 80’s and sing the Doxology (Praise to God) when God’s Joy enters her heart.  I truly believe anxieties of life teach us to rest and trust in God where we can find Joy.
Mother expressed Joy when her final illness was diagnosed.  She now knew her Exit Lane.  But the Exit leads to an Entrance.  When travel slows with age and pain, an exit lane shall take me home, through evening gloaming where gathered saints and angels sing and god harps ring in Paradise beyond blue skies.  Though things of earth may disappear, I will not fear that final breath to walk through death.  (ADS)  The separation of death from this world united her with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 
Often her joy seemed minuscule to me and not worth noticing.  Now I am learning to find joy in the words of God.  In the exuberance and impatience of youth, I was blinded to the treasure of love Jesus gives.
As we raised four children and I taught school, I was often tired, and this verse caught my attention – Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28.  This is a promise from Jesus I know is true.
Slowly God drew me in through anxious moments and times of sorrow and times of thanksgiving, tears of joy and tears of sadness.  It has been a journey up a steep mountain of experiences and learning.  When I accepted Jesus and was baptized into His Body at the age of eight I didn’t know the mountain of learning lasting for a lifetime awaited me.   Would I change anything?  I would change nothing except being more aware earlier of the God Who Is and His One and Only Son, Jesus.  I wish I had known earlier the endless power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to live within my heart to teach me further.
Living with Jesus is skimming the top off of life just as I used to skim the cream off the top of whole milk with the gravy ladle as a girl. The cream is the richest part of life.  It is where we find the fruit of the spirit beginning with love. 
I have often pondered the inter-relationship building of the fruit of spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  Love, Joy and Peace begin the list.  When we love in the true sense of the word love – a relationship.  We can see the true Joy that God has for us in Jesus.
I remember the endless list of ‘begats’ in the Old Testament.  There is some begetting in the fruit of the spirit as well.  Love begat Joy and Joy begat Peace. There is not one without the other.   How do I know God is the Author of Love?  “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.   When I think I know all the answers, I read Job 38 and 39 and the verse following in 40.  Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”  Job 40:2 
How can anyone live in this world of chaos and change without accepting the gift of God – Jesus Christ, as our Savior?  Jesus gives us a promise like no other who has ever walked on this earth.  He offers a home in Heaven for an eternity, the joy of knowing we are loved, the joy of worth, the joy of purpose, the joy of belonging, the joy of hope and love for eternity!
-No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.  Psalm 16:9
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. Psalm 23:2
-Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1
-You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.  Psalm 139:3
-Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Psalm 139:23.
-You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. I Peter 4:2
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6
-But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  Galatians 5:22-23
-But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.  Psalm 5:11
-You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.  Psalm 16:11
-The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.  Psalm 28:7
-But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”  Matthew 17:5
-When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:10-12

-Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.  Philippians 4:4-5

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