A Joyful Heart

Beautiful smiling cute babyMy concept of God might be different than yours.  I believe God is loving, caring, and full of joy.  God gave us our sight so we can have the pleasure of seeing rainbows,  butterflies, and majestic mountain ranges.

I thank God that He blessed me with the sense of smell, so I can enjoy the aroma of a freshly baked cake; and I am overjoyed that He created me with taste buds, so I can savor the flavor of apple pie topped off with a big dip of vanilla ice cream.

On my journeys into the wilderness, I’ve enjoyed the solitude of silence that is only interrupted by the chirping of a bird, the whistle of a quail, or the refreshing sound of a flowing river.

I’m glad that God wants His people to experience the wonder of joy and the fruit of happiness.  Solomon wrote of this in the Proverbs: “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit . . . a cheerful heart has a continual feast (15:13, 15).”

A couple of chapters later, Solomon draws a contrast between the joyless and the joy-filled:    “One with a twisted mind will not succeed, and one with deceitful speech will fall into ruin. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones (17:20, 22).”

Since a joyful heart is good medicine, here’s a medicine chest full of quotes:

  • The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • I think I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. ~ Booker T. Washington
  • If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it. ~John Templeton
  • You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God has anointed you with the oil of joy. ~Hebrews 1:9
  • I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. ~John 15:11-12

The key to living a life of joy is found in the words of the Psalmist:  “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.” ~Psalm 16:11

Three questions come to mind when I think of the verse above:

  • Since God reveals the path of life to you, why take a detour?
  • If abundant joy is found in His presence, what do you have when you refuse it?
  • If eternal pleasures are in God’s right hand, what is left? Temporary and unfulfilling worthless worries?

I’ll close with the words of Paul:  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” ~Philippians 4:4

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

Today is one of those days when memories flow through my mind like a river flowing through the narrows of limestone bluffs. I’ve run many such rivers in my canoe, and they, like my memories, are scenic and soothing.

This morning I awoke with memories of my dad and the times I spent with him. These are memories of baseball, wading creeks, hunting and fishing, and Sugar Loaf Hill, and Sallyards.

These memories are always present, but they are more fertile the first of November for two reasons: Prairie Chickens and Quail! This is because Dad started taking me hunting with him as soon as I could walk.

My dad enjoyed life—even though his was much too short. He taught me to love and respect everything Mother Nature has to offer; to play and enjoy the game of baseball; to hunt and fish; and to see the beauty of the Flint Hills—when your early years are spent in Sallyards, the Hills leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Whenever we lose something, our memories act as an anchor, and we often turn to them for a sense of comfort and normalcy. Such is the case with me this morning.

On Thursday of this week I stood at the bedside of a dying woman. Her life of 91 wonderful years was coming to a close. I quoted Psalm 23 to her, and I said: “Aunt Catherine, I’m happy for you. In a few minutes you’ll be with Jesus. Remember to tell my Dad hello for me. I haven’t seen him for a long time and I still miss him and still love him.”

Catherine Beedles has been the best aunt anyone could ever want. She loved her nieces and nephews like they were her own children. Most importantly though, she loved Jesus, had embraced the hope of the resurrection, and she had claimed Him as her Savior.

Over the last week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Aunt Catherine. We’ve reminisced and I’ve expressed my gratitude to her for all she has done for me. Every time I left, I left with a prayer and the words: “Aunt Catherine, I love you.”

As I think of this kind and caring woman, I think of Paul’s greeting to Timothy: “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy, clearly recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also (2 Timothy 2:3-5).”

Like my dad before me, I’ll be hunting this November morning with my son. I hope his future Novembers will be as full of memories as mine.