Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world. – John Piper
There are thousands of momentary pleasures that make me happy. Like trendy coffee shops and watching Jimmy Fallon and smelling cologne. God is most certainly in the details of my life, from laughter and drinking to homework and life-changing decisions. But joy is a little different in that it gives life and it is long-lasting. The Greek word for joy [χαρά] properly means “the awareness (of God’s) grace”. When I look at that distinction, these are some of the top things that fill me with joy.
- Resisting temptation and going to Him for satisfaction first.
It is hard to be vulnerable, and somehow I have found it’s even harder before God, because I know that with Him there is no show. Before Him all things are laid broken and completely bare. I cannot say things to cover up where I have been, because He is in my life behind and presently and ahead. But, when I don’t fall into temptation, and I ask Him for help, finding His deliverance in those moments are full of joy. Of overcoming. Of going against the odds. Redemption feels too good to be true. I guess too good to be true, but it is could be another definition of the grace that Jesus died to give. Fresh strength makes me aware of unlikely grace.
- Stretching outside of my comfort zone and finding Him there.
Whoever said being a Christian was boring were unbelievably wrong. There are often dry spells, but most often – whether we realize it or not – they are of our own doing or because of our circumstances. Walking with Him is an adventure. I love the thrill of saying yes to some crazy idea He has for me, anxious to see if He is trustworthy, and – of course – finding that He is. This journey of following Christ makes me aware of thrilling grace.
- Being on a team, in community, in relationship.
I love it when conversations eventually seep below small talk, and the conversation begins to look like rhythms of confession and sharing. Heart-to-hearts are not the only kind of conversation that matter, but I love walking away from a conversation where I know for certain that I am not alone. The feeling of being on a team goes beyond deep conversations though. It can come in that electric moment when you are in a stadium of people and your football team wins. Sometimes it looks like that knowing glance you exchange with a stranger in the airport. Living life alongside so many other people is rickety and we don’t often do it with excellence, but it is a gift. Community makes me aware of personal grace.
- Beauty in countless forms.
Observed in a friend’s smiling face, a baby’s contagious giggle. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The Flint Hills of Kansas. Hiking in Uganda. A hand-painted canvas. Architecture that beckons you to come closer and join its history. Trekking through a suburban city in Ecuador. Beauty is revealed to us in a million different sensations on this earth, but the Lord uses it all to display his glory. Beauty makes me aware of stunning grace.
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