"Abram has learned to laugh! He has found some JOY!" These were the words written in an email today from a teacher at our school who has just adopted a little boy from the Congo. This little boy is old enough to have learned to walk, but is just now learning to crawl.....just now gaining some weight......and having his needs met by his new mother and father in only just the past couple of days. Both parents are now in the Congo and one will be headed home to care for their other two children while the other stays to wrap up the last bit of paperwork needed before returning to the states.
I was thinking about the statement she wrote at the very end of her latest email update. This little boy has "learned to laugh". That statement took my breath away. There is not a day that doesn't go by that my children aren't laughing and giggling so much that I have to sometimes put a stop to it. In the light of her words.....I think I will think a little harder before I stop them next time. My children are bursting with joy...daily. I thank Jesus for this. He is the only source of that joy. We are not capable of understanding true joy apart from Christ. Sure...people have moments of happiness and laughter....but to experience true joy....that can only come from Jesus. This little boy, Abram is experiencing joy for probably the first time in his life and it is truly because of the love of Jesus in his new mother and father. They love each other with love that comes from Christ. They loved this baby oceans away with a love that only Christ could have placed within them. And now they have loved Abram and been caring and meeting his desperate needs for only a few short days and hours....and he has "learned to laugh..he has found some JOY!"
I am ashamed of the days I do not walk in the joy of the Lord. It is because of my own selfishness that I waste those minutes and hours wallowing in my own misery. Even on my WORST days I should be walking in joy. I talk about singing with joy in my class quite a bit. We laugh quite a bit. We rehearse hard and continually remind ourselves that we are learning to sing "skillfully and shout with joy!" (Psalm 33:3) In learning our music skillfully we are doing our very best as an offering to our Lord. I tell the kids that the joy from their heart should be unmistakably on their faces! But that's just it. I know that they are young. Some are Christians....and probably there are some that aren't. You can't fake true joy. When you have that joy in your heart others WILL see it. I hope that as these teenagers grow in their faith and in their ability to confidently express themselves through music and performance that they will be able to show this joy more and more through their singing. It is such a precious sight. I see it when I look in their faces in class. I see it when the music is "just right" and "clicks". I see glimpses in the faces of those who are quiet and withdrawn.....or "too cool" to show any emotion at all. Oh, Lord, that You would live in them so fully and deeply that they can't help but show it. Barriers of insecurity and fear would melt away and become nonexistent. The eyes that cut from side to side----looking for the approval of the "keeper of the coolness" would look only at Jesus with confidence.....and their hearts would "Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!" (Psalm 98:1)
"Abram has learned to laugh! He has found some JOY!"
“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” Psalm 51:7-12