Recently I have been finding it too risky to get joyful. Let me explain what I mean. There is a danger in joy. Happiness can be a liability. Levity tends to calamity.
Do you fear that if you allow too much joy, too much of the goodness of God, of life, of beauty, of your love for others, to be expressed: that actually it will all disappear? That we can’t allow ourselves TOO much peace, or pleasure? That caution should be our watchword?
On a side note, joy MUST exist in spite of what is often the overwhelming sadness of life. As Christians, we are called to joy. Joy is what will last when all the tears are over. And if we are not accustomed to joy, the ‘serious business of heaven’ as C.S. Lewis called it, heaven perhaps cannot be our home. And of course sadness and joy are regularly intertwined, interleaved, interspersed. The best entertainers know this, know that laughter will also make us more predisposed to be moved to sadness.
Another way of thinking about this, rather than joy as a danger, a risk – unwise, perhaps – is the timing of joy. I think this is crucial, and that perhaps we confuse this with excess. I think excessive joy is actually a requirement of the Christian walk. ‘Joy unspeakable’ was how the apostle Peter put it. The Psalmist speaks of ‘fullness of joy’.
Recently I have felt a nudge towards joy, in fact the phrase I had is ‘labour in joy’. To work at joy. To see it as a discipline. This is a new idea for me, and I may report back on it. But I feel that I need to do this first thing in the morning. It seems the best time for joy. Yes, evenings should be filled with joy. Yes, there should be joy ‘in the journey’. There will be moments in the day when joy will overtake us and knock us sideways. Times where we can’t stop laughing out loud, so much so that others may be offended.
And let me ask a question: if you cannot be joyful in the morning, can you hope to be joyful elsewhere? Start how you mean to go on. If you want to be a runner, you need to run. If you want to be an intercessor, pray. And if you want to be a joyful Christian, then start by allowing the joy to well up in you. God is my salvation. I will trust Him. And with joy I will draw water from the wells of salvation. How much I need that water. How much I need that joy!