Monday, December 14, 2015

Lighting Your Joy Candle

           This month’s issue of Guideposts magazine has a story written by California pastor Dave Beckwith about what happened to him three weeks before Christmas one year.
            Their Christmas decorations consisted of three big words illuminated on the eave of their house: Love. Joy. Peace. They’d been erecting these three words on their house since 1982. People snapped pictures of them; others left thank you notes.
            Then one morning, Pastor Beckwith opened the door and found a gaping space where his Joy should have been. Someone had clipped the connecting wires and spirited his “joy” away. He couldn’t believe someone would steal it! His wife quipped that someone must have been depressed and needed it.
            Ever felt like that? Depressed and in need of joy?
            Many people experience that void this time of year and don’t know why or how to find it. They think they’ll find it in the office party after a night of revelry. Or they think they’ll find it in a gift they’ve put on their wish list, if only someone will buy them the gift. Or they might purchase the gift for themselves. Unfortunately, both methods of receiving often result in a brief, transient joy, and then we feel the void all over again. This is supposed to be a supremely joyful time of year. If that’s true, why do so many people alone and depressed?
            Maybe it’s because we’re looking for the wrong people and things to give us joy. Maybe we don’t really know what the source of it is.
            Advent is a time where we look forward with hope, in remembrance of God’s promises to humanity that He will come again. We also prepare our hearts to receive God, both now, in this life, and when He does return. We celebrate joy with the remembrance of the angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth, which I wrote about last week. And we celebrate love—the unfathomable, unconditional love of a God who sent His only son to Earth to redeem mankind.
            In reality, Christmas doesn’t just last one day, it is a “season.” A season that should keep on going—at least in your heart—throughout the year. We use this season to remember, to look forward, to prepare our hearts for the upcoming year.
            Pastor Beckwith eventually got his Joy replaced, made by a carpenter who fashioned a Joy sign with his gifted hands, and also learned the source of true joy in the process. 

            Yesterday, Christians around the world specifically focused on “joy” and lit the “joy” candle on the Advent wreath in their churches and in their homes. Did you light your candle? Did you celebrate? Is your internal, and eternal, candle lit brightly? Are you carrying it around with you in your heart, to warm your soul and illuminate your life?
            My challenge to you this week is this:
            If you possess true joy, look for ways to spread it around this week. There are a lot of people looking for it. Pray for God to open your eyes and ears to the joy-deprived. Sometimes all you need to do is look in their eyes to know if they know joy or not. Shine your candlelight of joy in someone’s life, and use your light to spark a flame in someone else.

            If you don’t know the source of true joy, or are looking for it, ask someone who seems to possess it—someone who is illuminating their joy light—how and where they got it. 
            And let me know what happens!

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!

Blessings (and prayers for your hearts to be full to overflowing with joy!),


photo credit: <a href="">Adventkranz</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>