Today is "Word Wednesday" - a day to share my "Word for the Year 2016"...
Recently I read a story in "Guideposts", a small magazine that shares "True stories of Hope and Inspiration". Written by Dave Beckwith from Irvine, CA, it was titled, "Who Stole My Joy?"
In his story, Mr. Beckwith (actually "Rev." since he is a pastor!) wrote about his decorations for Christmas. While his neighbors decorated with inflatable Santas or icicle lights, he placed three big wooden signs illuminated with spotlights:
He had been doing these same decorations for many years, and his neighbors loved and appreciated seeing them. People even came by to see the decorations, some even leaving "thank you" notes for them.
One morning, Pastor Beckwith opened his front door to discover the "Joy" sign was gone! The wires connecting the sign had been clipped and the entire sign was removed.
"Why on earth would someone do that?" he asked. "Why would God let someone steal my Joy?"
Well, he didn't find the "Joy" sign, or answers to these questions; but as he wrote, "I did get a good sermon out of the story - how to find joy in a sometimes crazy season."
The season we just finished - Advent/Christmas - can be joy-ful! But, it can also be joy-less.
Many have a hard time finding joy amidst the grief and sorrow they feel in the loss of a loved one.
Many find it hard to find joy when their lives are turned upside down because of financial hardships. How do we find joy when we don't even have the funds to pay our bills or buy groceries, much less trying to buy gifts for our children and loved ones.
As a caregiver, I often find it hard to feel the joy; yet as I look at those around me - some who have it much harder than we do - I can stop and think about the things that I do have in my life:
A comfortable apartment - a roof over our heads!
Food to eat - and in the freezer, fridge and cabinets.
Family and friends to enjoy being with...there are those who are alone, and feel it especially during the holidays.
Clothes to wear - I may not be the most fashionable but I am dressed, and have things to choose from to wear each day!
Pastor Beckwith continued into the new year, counseling a young couple who had requested "couples' counseling" from him. Though the husband (Tom) remained quiet during their first session, at the end he said, "Pastor, I can make you a new Joy sign if you'd like. I'm a carpenter, you know."
The counseling continued, though the pastor felt Tom had no interest in God or forgiveness or any of the other messages of redemption he offered.
Finally, in April Tom called the pastor to tell him the Joy sign was ready. Pastor Beckwith offered to meet Tom for dinner to thank him.
Here's what he wrote: "Tom seemed nervous. He fiddled with his menu, then put it down and blurted, 'Pastor, I get it.'
'Get what?' asked Pastor.
'The key to love, joy, and peace,' replied Tom.
'Yes?' asked Pastor.
' It's God,' answered Tom."
While cutting the wood for the Joy sign, Tom had a strange thought - "Where do love, joy and peace even come from?"
It finally hit him..."There is no love or peace without God! And that is the very key to Joy."
Well, Tom was so convinced of the message he finally came to believe, that he cut a fourth sign...one that said simply "God".
So, as Tom in this story found, once we find God, we know that love, peace and joy are just around the corner!
Praying you find the joy you have been missing...
that may be hidden!