Make Room for Joy

Think back with me about the most memorable Christmas toy you ever received. It could be from anyone – mom, dad, grandparents, store mall Santa, a “secret Santa” from work or church group, or the gift from “Santa” who really is your dad or grandparents. By the way, I found my dad was “Santa” when I was about twelve because I recognized his penmanship when he signed the gift.

Fast forward to adulthood. What was the most memorable toy you bought for yourself? That’s right. Be honest. You are now an adult with a real job. You probably had an eye on something for a while and now that you can afford it, you do.

For me, it was a LEGO Star Wars U-Wing. Rogue One had just come out and the line of LEGO merchandises was hard on its heels. The wings could sweep and lock back, it could fire missiles, and the tiny doors could slide forward with a door gunner much like a UH-1 Huey or SH-60 Black Hawk.

In 4 hours, I built the entire kit with approximately 800 pieces by myself. I was so happy when I finished.

And then the euphoria wears off. I started to worry about the complete toy; what if I drop it? Will I be able to repair it quickly? Where will I store it? What happens if I lose one of those figures? And what should I do about the tiny spare parts I have left over? Seriously, the only time I might take it out is when I’m watching Rogue One again and want to use it to reenact critical scenes.

Let’s just be honest. We often confuse happiness with joy. I was happy those four hours building the U-Wing. Was I filled with joy afterwards? Yes – a little bit, but it was more like inconsequential worries on the proper care and storage of this toy.

Let me flip this: What was the best gift you gave someone? It doesn’t have to be a tangible present such as the gift of time. After all, people go visit nursing and elderly group homes to sing Christmas carols this time of the year. People make more of an effort to visit the hospitalized and sing the said carols to them. Sure, it might be off key and a capella…, or just an acoustic guitar. Yet we do it and think it is a perfect way to spend the days leading up to Christmas.

One of my favorite musical groups – The Piano Guys decided to surprise a senior center with a classic Christmas song – Linus and Lucy from A Charlie Brown Christmas. There is so much happiness once the audience recognizes the melody. Suddenly, everyone perks up. A couple even started dancing! The gift of music – and joy. You cannot watch this clip without feeling more upbeat.

And what about a Christmas? Where is your joy in the middle of stressful travels? My commute takes me past two strip malls and even though I don’t have to go inside, going past it is just as stressful.

Like true peace, I have to look up. Look upwards to Jesus. Last time, I posted about the three types of false peace – which really are control, isolationism, and calmly reloading your gun while smiling for the cameras. All of them are failures in inter-personal relationships which are often the cause of strife. The only true peace comes from peace with God.

Joy is wrapped up in the person of the Lord Jesus. In fact, one of my friends used J-O-Y as how to live:
J – Jesus
O – Others
Y – You

As Christians, we are put God first and foremost and for me, somehow everything falls into place better than I could ever hope for. Next, when I put others before me, I discover the joys of service and giving. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Time after time, I found it to be true. And when I put myself last, I find I am too tired to care about the small stuff that I thought was a mountain.

Now, if you are not a Christian but still believe in good works and kindness, all you have is “O-Y”. That’s what Scotsmen yell to get people’s attention. It’s not even a word!

I do remember hearing author Sally Lloyd-Jones say this about Jesus: Jesus is a very joyful person because when he was moving around the Palestinian countryside, all the children liked to hang out with Jesus. They came up to him; the disciples thought it did not help Jesus’s reputation as a serious rabbi but Jesus told them off. He told them to let them come. We are not sure what Jesus said to them. Maybe he kicked around a ball with them? Played their version of handball? Told them stories? Performed a small miracle? I don’t know, but it must have been a joy to behold.

A lot of people missed his first coming. They just weren’t paying attention.

Now, we’re eagerly waiting for Jesus’s return for another joyous occasion: a wedding. Are we paying attention this time?

Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare him room.

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