Seven seconds (3)
Ever noticed how some people have bad memories of growing up in church? They think back to stern, grumpy faces, delivering harsh messages of condemnation to the world, the sky, and anyone who’d listen. It’s a bit of a disservice to God when you think about it – especially when you remember that Jesus called Himself the ‘good shepherd’, and that what we translate as ‘good’ means winsome (attractive, pleasant, engaging). If we spent a while thinking, really thinking, about what we’d been given by God, Christians would be the Blackpool illuminations of religious people. We’d be constantly, brightly, lit up with joy. We’d wear smiles the size of other peoples’ mellow frowns. It tells us something that the usual response these days to the joy of God is ‘oh, of course, but Christians have troubles too.’ But they happen against a backdrop of an incredible joy that we might have lost sight of – the type of joy mentioned in Ephesians 5:19, which makes us spontaneously start singing in our hearts and out loud. The last few days, we’ve been talking about how the joy of God shows up on our faces. If you’ve realised that you’re actually not sure you’ve ever known that, inside, then today might be the day to check in with God and ask for it. You can ask Him honestly, because He says He’s the good shepherd. He’s totally for you and He says that the joy He has is actually available to you too – not just as a one-off, or a deposit at the start of your Christian life, but through it all, and into eternity. Why not ask?
Think back to the last time you experienced God’s joy. Really imagine yourself there. Remember what encountering Him that way felt like, and ask for that again.