As an adult I often have to deal with things that could easily be qualified as "No fun". I have job responsibilities. I have to pay a mortgage. I have to cut my grass. I have to clean my house. I have to pay for stuff that I don't really want to pay for (whoever said public education was free didn't have kids). I have to do the dishes. I have to get oil changes on my car. I have to pay for gas. From time to time I have stress in certain relationships. Sometimes, as I wake up in the mornings I want nothing more than to stay in bed and not have to deal with any of the stuff that isn't fun. We've all had days or maybe even weeks like this right? Sometimes being an adult with obligations and responsibilities isn't fun. If we're not careful we can pretty quickly lose any and all joy that we once had for living life. Even the things that we once enjoyed and found happiness in doing can start to lose their luster. Last night I was reminded of the simplicity and joy of life that can be ours if we choose to take it.
One of the aspects of my job that I most look forward to each year is welcoming in new 6th graders to our student ministry. Each May we invite, for the very first time a handful of upcoming 6th graders into our student center to experience all of the wonder and glory of student ministry. Their faces are priceless. Their eyes light up at the dancing lights on the stage and they almost involuntarily "have to" run through the fog as it rolls out of the machine and into the room. It seems as though with each passing year they grow smaller in stature and watching them wonder among the "giants" that surround them is fascinating. It's as if they struggle to take it all in. Often they just run around the room as if swimming through a pool of jelly beans or their favorite treat. As I watched all of this unfold last night I was struck by the sheer joy that they seem to experience in these moments.
I was sitting at the check-in table greeting students when one new 6th grader approached the table with a friend in tow and a huge smile on her face. She said, "Pastor Andy, I'm here and I brought a friend, her name is Eva."
I probably freaked her out a little because I just stared back at her with my own beaming smile. I was mesmerized. It was as if at that moment, nothing else on the planet mattered to her. She was so happy. She had a friend. She was now considered a youth. She was excited. This was awesome. She had arrived and nothing could change that. In her mind and in her world, that moment seemed to top any previous joyful moment she had yet experienced.
I quickly snapped out of my "weirdness", greeted them and sent them on their way to the cafe for their free drink, but that moment stuck with me for the rest of the evening and even into today.
In my life I know how easy it can be to lose my joy. I get tired. I get cranky. I get impatient with those around me. Things I used to love and enjoy doing, things I used to find joy in can slowly start to become not so joyful. It's as if the older we get, the harder we are to impress. We require more stimulation. We require things that cost more money. We require bigger and better. When we don't receive that our joy begins to fade. I was reminded last night that I need to return to a place and time in my life when I found my joy in the simple things.
I have been forgiven and loved by God even though I'm a screw up.
I have a beautiful wife.
I have two great kids.
The grass in my yard is mostly green.
I have four bottles of really good Ginger Ale at my house waiting for me.
I get to go home tonight, sit on my couch, eat spicy cheese and watch a basketball game.
When did I stop finding joy in these things? When did these things become, "not enough"?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
God has blessed you with more than you could ever imagine. Even on your worst day when you are hard pressed to come up with anything to be joyful about, remember that you are still blessed. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.