As I pulled open the curtains in the dining room this morning, I could not but break into a comfortable smile as I gazed upon the scene unfolding before me. Throughout this last week I have been diligently working on sprucing up our yards after the long stretch of brown lawns and leaf-less trees this last winter! In looking upon the backyard today, I enjoyed the freshly mowed and trimmed green lawn, the new Golden Delicious Apple tree I planted a couple of days ago, the addition of another raised bed garden and the blades of our new green and yellow windmill as they churned in the gentle morning breeze.
I stood there a little mesmerized for a few extended moments as I took in the view. The sky was blue with a few wisps of clouds and the rising sun was filtering through the two pine trees on the eastern border of our property. It seemed that all I could see was JOY! As my eyes traversed across the yard it was like everything outside was smiling back at me. If I listened closely I swear that I could almost hear the trees singing as their top leaves fluttered with the wind.
A few moments later when I raised the front blinds on the matching windows in our living room, I saw the same exact thing happening right before my eyes with the front lawn I just mowed yesterday afternoon, the tall maples and pines that line our western border and with the bright red Double Knockout rose bush that is in full bloom in front of the porch next to the Rosemary bush and its tiny purple flowers that the bumble bees like to visit throughout the spring.
Everywhere I looked I saw JOY!
Have you ever experienced something like that before, when you can physically see the definition of a word or expression of praise, encouragement or optimism? It reminds me of a segment on the PBS show “The History Detectives” that we watched last weekend. The program which originally aired from 2003 – 2014 centers around a group of researchers who investigate the authenticity and history of, as well as attempt to find answers to any personal questions concerning articles of historic value that are presented to them from individuals all around the USA.
On this particular segment the group was looking into a piece of abstract art purchased in a nondescript thrift store that was thought to have been painted by American musician, composer, activist and filmmaker Frank Zappa (1940-1993). While I don’t really know too much about this performer, I was very familiar with his name due to his popularity during my childhood and young adulthood. What caught my attention in the investigation of the art piece was when they interviewed Frank’s wife about the piece of art.
After examining the painting, she reported that although she was not familiar with that particular work, it did remind her of the sketches that her husband would draw when composing songs. She stated that it was the way that he saw music. Many times, he would sit down and draw an abstract picture of the song that was formulating in his mind and then would write the song from the painting! … And that’s exactly what I experienced this morning when I opened up our drapes! I vividly saw the JOY of the Lord as a live-stream painting displayed before my eyes! WOW!
Later on, when I opened my Bible up to Philippians 4:4, I couldn’t help but laugh as God’s vivid picture of JOY unfolded before me. The Voice translation states: “Most of all friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice!” The God’s Word © version says to be joyful or put another way, to be “full of JOY!”
When I read that command I can’t help but think that Papa God is talking about a state of mind that He wants all Christians to have! The next verse in The Voice translation gets a little more interesting as it continues the thought from the previous scripture declaring: “Keep your gentle nature so that all people may know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. (for) The Lord is ever present with us.” (Philippians 4:5)
That particular transition from verse four to five makes it pretty clear… at least to me… that Paul is directly associating our regular mind set of JOY with having a gentle nature from which people around us can get an accurate picture of what it is like to walk in Christ’s footsteps! It would seem that JOY therefore, is the catalyst for a gentle, “moderate, mild, or tender temperament.” (Oxford Online dictionaries)
I admit that I had a special bounce in my step as I went in to get my wife up after what I saw happening outside around our property first thing today. I think that she picked it up right away as she opened he eyes wide and looked right into mine. We’ve always tended to have a serendipity of hearts and minds when it comes to JOY. From day one we always found it easy to laugh and smile when we are together. His JOY has been one of the bonding and foundational rocks in our union throughout all the great times and the not so great times.
We’ve always seemed to feed off each other’s sense of humor, laughter and all-around JOY of heart! Even today, in the midst of this disease that is attempting to ravish my wife’s body, I still find myself laughing at some of the hard but yet… in a weird sense, funny situations I find us in as I care for her personal needs. There are times that she will get the funniest look on her face when I am talking to her or helping her to partake of her meals. It is like she still continues to find opportunities to release the JOY that is deeply set inside of her… even though she cannot communicate in a normal sense right now. It is just who she is, because it is a state of mind that she purposely developed every day of her life!
I believe that she is a physical picture and application of Paul’s command to us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (KJV) …and you know… She NEVER tires of living it: So “Rejoice!”
Well… I choose to keep following her good example! How about you?
Have a super-duper, full of JOY weekend! … and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How much am I expecting to REJOICE today?”