The Joy Box
The gift of experience with the true Joy of Christmas
Some people live in tropical climates and have never made a snowball, felt the chill of snow stuffed down the back of a jacket by a mischievous friend or experienced the beautiful brilliance of a season’s first snow as it covers the trees and ground in glistening white. Some have never gone sledding, rode in a sleigh, caught a snowflake on their tongue or made a snow angel.
Although they have never experienced snow, it doesn’t keep them from believing they know what snow is like. When people experience snow for the very first time, they want to do everything they’ve seen in the movies: make snow angels, have a snowball fight, build a snowman and ride a sled. They don’t know about frozen fingers and toes, runny noses and the pain of a subzero windchill. They certainly don’t know about the backbreaking work of shoveling snow or the tension of driving in it.
Snow is beautiful when it first falls, but it changes from white to brown very quickly. As it is plowed out of the way, it picks up dirt and debris in the process.
As a Christian, do you ever feel like you’ve tried to convince someone of something you never truly experienced? This happens a lot for people who have grown up in church, but never allowed God to lead them to grow their faith. When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come, what if His disciples smiled and nodded, pretending to know what He was talking about?
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17 NIV).
The world can’t see Him? It can’t know Him? They won’t accept Him? Then how could you introduce Him to the world? You can’t, unless you first know Him.
Trying to explain a relationship with Holy Spirit is a lot like trying to explain snow to someone who has never seen or touched it. We understand cold; we understand white, but unless you experience the snowfall, you will never truly grasp the encounter.
We can explain truth. We can explain peace; we can explain help, but unless we truly experience these in relationship with Holy Spirit, they’ll be nothing more empty words on a page with no power behind them to prepare people for a transformed life.
- The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26).
- He confirms the Scriptures (John 14:26).
- He brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
- He instructs with wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge (Isaiah 11:2).
- Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Don’t just say these things,
live these things.
Have daily encounters with the Holy Spirit so you can speak of Him with intimacy, not confusion. When you do, you’ll be able to not just communicate life change but impart life change through what Christ has done in you. What will people experience when they encounter a fully devoted follower of Jesus? Joy. Sounds like a Christmas movie or better yet, the Christmas Story.
Can you imagine the overwhelming stress Mary and Joseph must have felt when they were told they were going to parent the Messiah? Something had to happen in them to also experience overwhelming joy. Such joy can only happen when you have confidence in God.
One of the first things you’ll experience as you unwrap the gift of experience is Joy. Joy came to the world in the form of a baby named Jesus. He grew up to be a miracle-working Savior who died, rose and is coming soon. He is ready for your tangled mess. The Heavenly Father wants healthy children and healthy churches. How are we supposed to be joy to the world when we have none ourselves?
Amazingly, “Joy to the World” was not written to be a Christmas song, but to celebrate the second coming of Christ. Isaac Watts, a Methodist Minister, wrote the song as a lyrical adaptation of Psalm 98. The song was first published in The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament in 1719 (that’s a catchy title). The music was composed by Lowell Mason in 1839. It is believed that Mason may have “borrowed” notes from Handel’s, The Messiah to compose “Joy to the World.”
If you missed the first blog in this special Christmas series,
you can find it here – Nicely Wrapped – Is your heart an attractive gift to God?
Joy may not mean to intentionally spread joy, but when you are in God’s presence, you will spread it nonetheless.
Joy is infectious.
As we grow older something happens to our joy box. You may not have known that you have a joy box. But deep inside each one of us is a place that experiences, produces and stores up this often-elusory emotion. Joy is, at times, offered openly from our joy box. Sometimes it needs to be wrestled free. And then there are times that it is locked so tight we wonder if joy is even in there.
There is a catch when it comes to a full, joy box. It is only filled when it is attached to joyful things. Ah – but what is a joyful thing?
As we live, we quickly discover that joy is imitated more frequently than any other thing. It is common for something that is unquestionably destructive to put on a pretty mask and sell itself as joy. It is not a rare thing to see the most debased and dysfunctional of actions laundered through joyful disguises, fooling a lot of humanity. Joy is tricky that way. We desire the real thing, but we settle for the fraudulent. We can wrap our joy box with elegant paper and opulent ribbons and proclaim that the joy inside is just as beautiful, however, lifting the lid reveals a pseudo joy, disguised yet again.
As children our joy is untethered. It is not reliant on a paycheck, a large house or a luxury car. Our joy box is pure, right and undefiled. As we get older, we attach our joy to temporary things and find our joy does not last. We connect our joy to people and circumstances and objects, and the obsessions slowly empty our joy box, leaving only a pretty wrapper.
As a child we did not know about properly tethered joy boxes. We were born with a joy box that is free and beautiful and produces large amounts of joy. The more we tether our joy box to temporarily joyful things, the less joy our joy box produces.
God intended for your joy box to be full.
Upon creation God consistently declared that all created things were good (Genesis 1:31). Somewhere along the line, humanity began to harness its joy to successes, but success is a false joy. With success comes jealousy, after all, none of us are successful permanently. We affix ourselves to people, but people do not last forever. With their passing comes an emptier joy box.
We try to secure our joy to finances, but finances are fleeting and the control of finances a misguided illusion. We never know what evil things may come to steal them away leaving us, yet again, with empty joy boxes. Millionaires who lost their fortune during the stock market crash of 1929 were seen leaping from buildings to their death. They opened their joy box and realized it was desolate. With an empty joy box comes the evaporation of hope.
The Apostle Paul gives us some direction on how to maintain a full joy box. He says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13 ESV). Paul seemed to have mastered this concept. He also offered, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12 NIV).
Paul discovered that his joy box could only be filled by his relationship with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. The God of hope desires to fill our joy boxes to the brim.
When we allow our joy box to be untethered from temporary things, we find that our joy box remains curiously full.
And with a full joy box comes great hope.
Hunger cannot empty a joy box. Neither can shelter or a dwindling bank account. There is a joy that God desires us to relive every single day – a hope that can only be found in Christ Jesus. It’s an eternal hope and it stuffs our joy box with so much joy that we even find ourselves rejoicing in trials – counting them all as joy (James 1:2).
As Jesus walked the earth he said, “These things I have spoken so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11 NASB).
As you journey toward Jesus this Christmas season, may you experience joy unspeakable and full of glory.
If you missed the first blog in this special Christmas series, you can find it here – Nicely Wrapped – Is your heart an attractive gift to God?