One of the things I love most about teaching first graders is how excitable they are. I discovered very quickly that if I get excited–or make them think I’m really excited–about what I want to teach them, they jump right on board and instantly engage.
And everything is a big deal to them, whether it’s Halloween, Valentine’s Day, talking about their weekend excursions, an assembly, snack time, recess–you name it, they’ve got passion for it. For the most part, they approach life with enthusiasm and joy, kind of like Will Ferrill’s character in the movie, Elf.
I often wonder what happens to this enthusiasm and joy as people become adults. I mean, why don’t I see this same kind of effervescence in more grown-ups? I don’t mean that we should all act like Buddy the Elf, but I know a lot of people that could at least smile a little more–or a LOT more.
Jesus has something to say about joy in John 15:9-11 (ESV):
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Wow! So joy is connected to abiding in the love of God, just like Jesus did. And when we do that, we not only get a little bit of joy, but Jesus says our joy will be FULL. I don’t know about you, but I think having joy that is “full” sounds pretty good. And if it means abiding in God and giving myself to Him in obedience, so be it. I’m in!
I love this quote from Henry Nouwen: “Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.” I hope you discover the kind of love from God today that makes your joy as full as it can be!
Happy December 17th!
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