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Soul Care

What is Joy?

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What is Joy?

If you’re anything like me, you long for true joy in your life. You’ve probably gone looking for it in a lot of different places - friendships, marriage, careers, children, church…. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ve discovered, much to your great disappointment that while all those wonderful things have the opportunity to cooperate with joy, none are the source.

In the economy of the fallen world, “joy” seems to be defined a fickle, fleeting feeling that can be purchased or pursued.

As I was searching for a stock photo using the word “joy” for this post, almost all of them captured someone jumping in the air with their hands held high. I thought to myself, “These are beautiful, but they don’t even scratch the surface of the depths of joy.”

That tells me that we have very little clue about what joy is.

We can’t manufacture it. Not real joy. Not the kind Jesus talks about.

When I read Jesus’ words as recorded in John chapter 15 (for today, I’m reading from The Message), he speaks only briefly of joy, but something in my soul perks its ears and leans in. Tell me more, Jesus. He offers an attention-grabbing morsel: “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” What things? What is it that you’ve told me for the purpose of joy?

There are few chapters of the Bible that I would describe as delicious, but if ever there was one, this chapter would be it. Listen to the words that Jesus spoke to us for the purpose of joy:

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.” (v.4)

“When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.” (v.5)

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.” (v.9)

Live in me…make your home in me…join with me…intimate and organic…make yourselves at home in my love…

I’m melting. These are the words my soul longs to hear. Union - that’s what I’m really after. And if Jesus is telling us - so that our joy may be wholly mature - that he has loved us the way his Father has loved him, and he’s made his home in us…then that means we are intimately united with him at all times.

And we don’t even realize it.

Could we live in a way that we are so keenly aware of our union with Jesus that our daily experience is one of great joy? He makes his home IN us. We are never away from him. His love is inside of us. We get to make ourselves at home in his love.

Recall how you feel when you visit a loved one and they offer for you to, “Make yourself at home.” My shelter is your shelter. My bed is your bed. My food is your food.

Jesus takes it a step further: “My life is yours….my life for yours.”

We get to put on his life and make our home in him as he does in us, so that our joy may be wholly mature. Mature joy?

If we look at the following verses from John 15, we will see Jesus tell us that mature joy is other-centered. He says,

“Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” (v11-12)

Jesus is telling us since he has made his home in us, that we can live loved, and joy can be ours at any moment - not based on feeling or whim, but in living outwardly the love we live IN.

By living in him, acknowledging his love and power in our lives, we are infused with everything we could possibly need to move into our world with love and, in turn, joy.

This makes my heart beat fast. It’s a reminder to me that everything good in our lives flows out of his love. My love for my family? His. Care for my neighbor? His. My endurance in difficult circumstances? His. It’s all his. It’s all him.

Rest in his love. Abide in it. Swim in it. Lap it up like a puppy at the water bowl. He is nourishment for our souls. It’s all around us, all the time, inside us all the time. Our home in him warms us, fuels us, revives us. Our hearts full, we walk with him, still IN us, into the lives of others, where our joy is made mature and whole.

That’s what joy is.

If you’re resonating with what you’ve just read, I would love to connect with you via email or social media. Drop your email below, or find me on Instagram @heatherbjur, or Facebook at facebook.com/heatherbjurwriter. Thanks for dropping by!

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