Wow! Talk about being tempted to feel old… Today is our youngest daughter’s 26th birthday. It seems just like yesterday when I came home in a euphoric daze at three in the morning after JoAnna was born at Santa Rosa’s Memorial Hospital. I must say that it was an easy birth for my wife. It seemed like we had just arrived at the hospital when the action jumped into high gear! I guess after the other three kids, she was a pro at having babies!
In reality I think JoAnna was just eager to pop out and begin pursuing all the things that Papa God had in store for her! JoAnna takes after me in that she is creative and loves to dream big dreams, most of which she has actively pursued from teaching ballet, attending Bible College, working with the youth in their church, writing and publishing her first novel, to learning to ride and own her own motorcycle… to name just a few. JoAnna always credited her Mom for encouraging her and giving her the freedom to follow her dreams, no matter what others may say or think about them.
Both of our girls have also continued with the tradition that started with my Mom’s family of being great cooks! Just like my Mom and her Mom before them, the evening meal and its preparation isn’t just something that they do but is a special event that brings family together as they feast on the delicious morsels presented before them. I would think that it was that sense of the evening meal that has caused me to remember a particular episode of the old Andy Griffith Show that was originally run from 1960 – 1968 and has been in continuous re-runs ever since.
In this program, Sheriff Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) discovered that he over booked his evening schedule one night and because he didn’t want to disappoint his friends, he ends up going to multiple houses for dinner. At each house he is escorted into the kitchen and seated at the table while the proud hostess serves up generous portions of her home made spaghetti. Following the meals Andy profusely compliments his hosts for their delicious dinners and at each home the cook bends over and proudly whispers into his ear that their secret ingredient is oregano.
If you’re an Italian you probably understand that the family recipe for pasta sauce is both highly regarded and secretive and is passed down to each generation. My Mom never used oregano in her pasta sauce and therefore neither do I. In my family sweet basil is the key ingredient to a great red marinara sauce. There was an Italian comedian years back named Pat Cooper that used to cause my Mom to bend over in laughter as he mimicked a typical conversation between Italians as he related that one of the first things always asked was: “How do you make your sauce?” I can also attest to the truth of that statement having heard it in many conversations during all the pasta dinner/dances I attended with my parents as members of the Italian Catholic Federation.
I thought of another secret ingredient today as I continued my study in Acts chapter eight. Verse eight tells us that “as a result” of “hearing, seeing and heeding” the Word of God that was taught by Philip, “that city was extremely happy.” (God’s Word ©) The King James Version states that “there was great joy in that city.” A quick look at my commentaries showed me countless scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that relate to our joy in direct connection to the Word of God.
I got the definite idea that the secret ingredient that sets us Christians apart from others in this world is the joy of the Lord that we carry inside of us! It is the secret ingredient that helps us to stand strong in the face of difficult situations, trying times, false accusations and plain old bad reports. I had direct contact with this phenomenon yesterday after we returned home from Piper’s doctor’s visit. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the most positive appointment that we have been since the initial stages of seeking out what was going on with her back in 2007.
The news really wasn’t that bad but I was really tired after a restless night and that seemed to accentuate the problem. It had been over three months since our last visit and the doctor was concerned about Piper’s lack of mobility and how difficult it can be to get it back at this stage. I will admit that at that point I did not have my joy on and the information was not real uplifting for me. I guess I also tend to take that kind of news personally thinking maybe I could be doing more to get her up and moving throughout the day. We agreed to schedule some physical therapy to assist in the process.
After the appointment we needed to do some shopping and then stop at our pharmacy to pick up a prescription of a new nasal spray to help with the night congestion difficulties. (Which actually worked well last night! – PTL!) It just seemed like an awfully long day. The one bright spot was being able to enjoy the great weather as we were stopped in traffic on the country highway with the top down on the Mustang!
By the time we got home both of us were pretty bushed. After I had helped Piper with some personal needs, we were walking back to her chair that was in the bedroom when she just could not go any further and slumped down to her knees. Well, I was too tired to stop her but was able to gently assist in her descent. Then in frustration I cried out to the Lord for help, took a deep breath and was able to lift her back up and into her chair. Then I crashed on the bed and began to pray. Something inside of me wanted to be very upset, but as I usually find to be the case, I couldn’t utter a negative word! Then in an instant I knew that I needed some joy of the Lord so that I could regain my strength. (See: Nehemiah 8:10)
So I called out to Piper and loudly announced that we were NOT going to let the enemy win but were going to praise the Lord and walk in the strength and health that God’s Word promises us. Then I uttered a few verses about the joy of the Lord and forced myself to laugh. And you know… it didn’t take real long and I was feeling better! Psalm 149:2 encourages us “To let Israel find joy in their creator.” (God’s Word ©) As spiritual Israel, that verse is talking to you and me… and I discovered once again that it works!
Isaiah 12:3 tells us “With joy you will draw water from the springs salvation.” (God’s Word ©) As I laid on that bed late yesterday afternoon in tired frustration, I was able to take advantage of the wells of joy and its attached strings of strength that emanate from the treasures inherent in my salvation. The world does not have that connection… but you and I do. It is the secret ingredient to the successful Christian walk! When is the last time you reached deep inside to your springs of salvation and drew the joy of the Lord that will strengthen you to complete the tasks set before you each day?
I think it is something that we need to do on a regular basis… don’t you? Have a great day. Stay in tune and in touch to God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… What or Who’s JOY am I expecting to draw from my springs of salvation today?”