Joy is my message to the world. This formerly depressed woman is now addicted to the strength that only comes from joy.
I simply can’t get enough of it. I can’t get enough of joy or of Jesus. Jesus and joy are found wrapped up in one another.
In His presence there is fullness of joy. – Psalm 16:11
So many people whom I try to encourage with the principles found in the Bible don’t understand joy. They mistakenly identify me as Pollyanna with a Bible or as Mary Poppins who sings Sunday School songs.
Whenever I am confronted with a person who doesn’t understand the power of joy, this is what I always simply say, “If you don’t understand joy … then just be thankful because thanksgiving and joy are not so very far apart.”
Joy is that supernatural vitamin that bestows a weak human being with strength. Joy is nourished by thanksgiving, it is nurtured by forgiving and it is sustained by heartfelt giving.
Joy can powerfully be spelled with the letters “G-I-V-E”.
Over the next three weeks, I am going to wring the joy out of these three words … thanksgiving … forgiving … and giving from the heart.
Today – let’s start with giving.
If you want to be the beneficiary of a miraculous joy beyond yourself then you must determine to be a generous giver.
A hilarious giver. A generous giver. An unselfish giver. An abundant giver.
All of the above in every season of the year on every day of your existence … be a hilarious giver … be a generous giver … be an unselfish giver … and be an abundant giver.
I have a friend who is 72 years old and even with her highest heels on she can only be measured at a whopping 5 feet tall. She weighs 98 pounds soaking wet.
However, this miniscule friend doesn’t wear high heels often because she has had numerous surgeries on her tiny feet. Finally, the doctors cut one of her toes off to relieve her of her constant foot pain. She is my 9-toed friend.
When she goes to get a pedicure, her sweet husband always says to her, “Make sure that they only charge you 90% of the full price!”
This tiny woman is my wise mentor, my stable role model, my dynamic heroine of the faith, my relentless prayer warrior and my deeply loved spiritual sister. I want to be like her when I grow up.
My friend’s hands are becoming increasingly crippled due to the tendons that are shrinking in her hands.
She suffers from horrific back pain most nights.
However, when I went to visit her last February, this tiny, gray-haired, pain-ridden woman wore me out with her daily giving!
On Monday, a restored woman came to the house and spent 3 intense hours with us. This woman, who was our honored guest on a rainy afternoon, has lived a life of drug addiction and prostitution but now has gloriously met Jesus as her Lord and Savior. My tiny friend is weekly discipling this 21st Century Mary Magdalene and is pouring wisdom over her dry soul.
As this new creation in Christ walked out the back door into the rain and wind, joy flooded my soul.
On Tuesday, we went to the church to pray for a wheel-chair bound woman who has been diagnosed with both MS and Lou Gehrig’s disease. We spent two hours praying with her, laughing with her, singing with her and weeping with her. It was two hours that I will never forget as long as I live.
I was the recipient of a miraculous joy that day.
On Wednesday, my tiny friend helped her daughter prepare lunch for 20 women who were coming over for a Bible Study. In the midst of the preparations of chicken salad, homemade soup and lemon squares, my role model slipped away to pick up a nearly-blind younger woman and bring her to that Bible Study.
The joy that was present in my soul at the end of that long day was nearly tangible.
Are you tired yet?!
On Thursday, we drove “across the bay” to have lunch with a 94-year old woman whose husband had recently died. This great-great grandmother was dressed like a fashion icon from the 1940s. Her make-up was impeccably applied, her red-gold hair was freshly done and her silk scarf was tied in a fascinating manner.
Over crab cakes and unsweetened iced tea, this nearly century-old woman, regaled us with the stories of her man who had fought on the beaches of Normandy. There was a sparkle in her eyes as she spoke lovingly of her sweetheart who had loved her well for over 60 years.
We filled the restaurant with heaven’s joy! Every customer in the place sweetly looked over at our table at three women from three different generations who were giggling like 12 year olds!
Oh! The joy that filled my soul!
On Friday, my dear friend and kindred spirit, took me shopping. She showered me with new clothes and shared about the richness of the Lord with the clerk who waited on us and then prayed for this single mother right there in the middle of a fine Southern department store!
I could taste the joy as it dripped off of us that afternoon.
Joy is a by-product of giving. If you are lacking joy this month of November, perhaps you should develop a lifestyle of giving.
There is a world in pain who needs your brand of joy … your strain of hope … and your prayers of power.
When you give to others, you will be the recipient of an unexplainable, dynamic and vibrant joy!
If you lack joy, give what you don’t have to someone else.
If you don’t understand joy, give a smile to someone in need.
If you resent others who have joy, buy a person a cup of coffee.
If you are ridden with emotional pain and discouragement, spend 30 minutes with a soul who is in greater pain than you are. Sing to that person … pray for that person … encourage that person with your simple presence.
Give when you don’t feel like it.
Give when you have nothing to give.
Choosing to give to others is the prerequisite for receiving the inheritance of joy.
Make the month of November not only a season of thanksgiving giving but also a time for simply giving to others in your world! Don’t let anyone “out-give” you this month! Every day make an intentional choice to give a blessing to someone you meet.
At the end of the month … you will be the recipient of heaven’s joy! I guarantee it!!
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!