“As soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:44)
I still remember the big, white bus that came through our neighborhoods, picking kids up for the Wednesday night service at a church across town. I also remember the one and only time I rode that bus with my two-year-old brother at my side. I was terrified!
The leaders in the front of the bus sang, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart,” while I clung to my little brother, fearful of the unknown. Once we got to the church, they separated us, whisking my brother away to the preschool room while I was taken to the first-grade class. I cried. Needless to say, we never rode the Joy Bus again!
A dozen years later, as I came up out of the baptismal water, having met my Savior, I finally knew what it meant to have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…a joy that was there to stay.
Luke chapter one records the indescribable joy that caused an unborn babe to leap in his mother’s womb. That same joy, from the Holy Spirit, would carry John the Baptist through a life of all-out commitment to the Lord. There is, perhaps, no better example of a person walking the walk of missional living. Through hot desert days and cold desert nights, with cries in the wilderness, John preached the message of the kingdom of God.
I can only imagine the isolation he must have felt, as he spoke about a foreign gospel, introduced the baptism of repentance, and set himself apart to prepare the way for the Messiah. Ridicule and mockery must have been his lifelong companions, as he walked the walk of devotion to Christ. For John, there were no seasons of laid-back complacency. To him, joy was the fuel for his mission.
Do you remember the joy?
For each believer, joy resides deep within, not as a superficial happiness mustered up by a positive outlook, but by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It supersedes the “stuff” of life, the ups and downs, and rollercoaster rides of circumstance.
Think about it for a moment. John hadn’t even taken his first breath, when he was moved with joy by the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. From the very beginning, joy propelled John into a wholly-devoted life for the sake of Christ!
In reflection of John’s testimony, I have to ask. Where is the joy that once inspired us to leap in whole-hearted devotion to God? I’m contemplating the same question, as I sense the ever-growing tide of complacency rising to untold heights.
It’s everywhere…this lack of urgency, lack of compassion, lack of…joy. I’m afraid we’ve lost the conviction that once made us leap in response to God’s Spirit. The joy that used to motivate us has faded into the background of a distant calling.
And yet, there is hope.
There is hope in Paul’s words to the Philippians, when he said, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
I am sure of this!
I am sure that we can move forward in the mission of CCI, no matter what wilderness lies ahead. Together, we can remember the joy that first called us. And in that joy, of wholehearted devotion to God, we can walk the walk in leaps and bounds.