I am sitting in the small food court area of Midland International Airport drinking coffee and eating a smores cookie. I am also currently reading a small book by Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son. The book is only 150 pages and normally would be a quick read by me. Surprisingly, I have been working on it for about a week. I read a few pages, think and pray. It is challenging me in a wonderful way. It comes with my stamp of approval.
Having set that up and in light of current events at Serenity Church I want to share a portion of this book:
“People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more that the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a whole lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God. They discover that there are people who heal each other’s wounds, forgive each other’s offenses, share their possessions, foster the spirit of community, celebrate the gifts they have received, and live in the constant anticipation of the full manifestation of God’s glory.
Every moment of each day I have the chance to choose between cynicism and joy. Every thought I have can be cynical or joyful. Every word I speak can be cynical or joyful. Every action can be cynical or joyful. Increasingly I am aware of all these possible choices, and increasingly I discover that every choice for joy in turn reveals more joy and offers more reason to make life a true celebration in the house of the Father.”
Do I choose joy in middle of disappointment? Do I choose joy in hardship? Do I choose joy when attacked? If I must share the Joy of Christ isn’t it reasonable that I must share in His Sorrows?
“Consider it a sheer gift (joy), friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. Know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you can become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:2-4)
James jumped into some sort tough stuff right off the start in his letter to first century Christians. It sounds like he’s writing to me and maybe us. He is saying to not only endure tests and challenges but to have joy when we are surrounded by them.
I will choose joy in the middle of disappointments, hardships and attacks knowing that there may be worse days ahead. I give thanks that the joy I am given is the Joy of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it is His joy that gives me strength.
I’m in until the end.