Dad, Jewel and I drove through down the dark, snow-lined streets of downtown Sioux Falls. The street lamps that worked made the snow glitter and glow beneath their light, covering the ugly with its gracing of beauty. We pulled up alongside the tall cross, on which a sign, only half-lit, read: "Jesus Saves Sinners". Dad turned the key, shifted his position, and began to pray silently as the heat of the car gradually left and the winter air crept in. My fingers, toes and nose started to feel the chill of outside as I watched the silhouettes of men mingling on the mission porch. One or two men were leaning against a post, a few walked up and down quietly, and some carried on in conversation with each other, glancing our way every so often.
As many times as we've come to share the light of Christ with these people, never so deeply did I consider what it must be like to be homeless. I thought of the richness I enjoy, living with my family in the warmth of my father's home, enjoying wholesome food, and attending a church with like-minded believers. I thought of the material things I have that these men, women and children have lost. I thought of my clothes, my jewelry, my music, my room, my books, my music. Easy for me to be happy.
From where does my joy truly come? I contemplated the question while I waited for Dad to say it was time to go in. Am I honestly delighting myself in things above, or am I just happy because it's easy to be happy, having everything? When we walked in that building and shared the joy of knowing Christ, I knew that when we sang of Him, smiled as we talked about Him, and asked others what they would do with Him, they would note our countenances and the confidence with which we spoke. But would they discern that our joy runs deep, deeper than having a home with a warm bed to call our own? Would they discern from our words that even if we had everything in the world, but do not have Christ, we have nothing at all; that if everything were to be stripped away from us, our joy can and should remain full if we are among the children of God?
Sometimes I am simply happy because I am comfortable. But there is a distinct, deep and all-impacting joy that ignites within me when I have spent time with Jesus, when I have met Him in prayer, read His Word and gotten to know Him deeper. It makes all other joys in life blush in comparison. It impacts every decision I make when I have made contact with the living God. But for that joy to remain, I must be constantly abiding...constantly looking to God for fulfillment and not to circumstances, possessions, or people, or my happiness will be cheap and easily swept away.
As Christmas nears, let's set our affection on things above and not on things on the earth. Let us give generously and joyfully even as we have been given so much: grace to see our need for the Savior; forgiveness at our repentance; direction, provision, and blessing for our journey here; and the hope of eternity dwelling with Jesus Himself, whose love is stronger than death.
Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty,
give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;
The Lord will give strength unto his people;
the LORD will bless his people with peace.
Labels: CHARACTER, CONTENTMENT, JOY, MISSIONS