I’m grateful to host Judy Douglass today on the Joy 360 series! When I first joined the Redbud Writer’s Guild her warmth radiated through my computer. She encouraged me and when I doubted my abilities gave me opportunity. What stands out most is watching her live the daily grind. Tirelessly she works to spread God’s message of hope and love to people near to the farthest reaches of the world, and she does it with a genuine smile in her heart even when life throws moldy lemons her way. Check out her books and blog at JudyDouglass.com!
I take a lot of pictures—of friends and family, and especially of my grandchildren.
Almost always, I say “smile!” I want my photos to capture joyful moments of fun activities, glad events, sweet times together.
Scripture is full of such smiling pictures, giving us glimpses of the joy our God and His children experience together.
Have you sung, “Dance as David danced”? How was David dancing? Joyfully with all his might. Why was David dancing? He and his army had brought back to Jerusalem the Ark of God—the presence of the Lord was with them again. His joy inspired him to celebrate, dance, give gifts. (2 Samuel 6)
Isaiah assures the children of Israel that their captivity is coming to an end. Freedom, return and restoration await. He lifts their hearts with these joyful words: “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Imagine the grins for that photo! (Isaiah 61:1-3)
You know the relief and joy you feel when you find something valuable to you that was lost! Luke tells about a shepherd who left his sheep to find one that was lost—happiness abounded. And a woman who cleaned her whole house till she found a treasured coin, with much rejoicing. And my favorite story: A son who took all and left home finally returns. The waiting father threw a party to celebrate that his son who was lost was now found! (Luke 15)
My grandson deeply wanted a certain Legos Star Wars kit with General Grievous. Twice he thought he had saved enough for it, but not so. So we gave it to him for his birthday. His mom sent a picture of him with a great, glad smile. The apostle John tells us that Jesus understands that happiness: “ Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.”
This, though, is the best picture of joy: The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy[b]awaiting him. (Hebrews 12:2)
Do you know what that joy was? What would bring so much happiness and gladness to Jesus that He would suffer the cross and death?
You. Us. The Bible is the story of God—Father, Son and Spirit—relentlessly pursuing us to woo us back, to reconcile us and restore us to relationship and fellowship.
I think I see a smile on Jesus’ face, even on the cross, anticipating time with His much loved brothers and sisters. Does that make you smile?
But how? How do we live with that consistent joy, with a glad countenance and a happy heart?
Jesus knew we couldn’t do it ourselves. So He sent His Spirit to live in us and fill us and give us joy. It is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. We don’t have to—can’t even—manufacture that joy. No fake smiles. (Galatians 5:22)
Instead we have access to a genuine outpouring of Spirit-filled joy, even in hard times. Paul assures the Thessalonians of this: You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 3:9)
And a final joyful snapshot: You, with joy uncontainable, overflowing, sloshing all over everyone around you! That infectious, riotous, often unexplainable, joy is one of the best enticing, attractive, persuasive invitations to our friends and neighbors to meet our Savior.
Need I say it? “Smile!”
Judy Douglass is a writer, editor, speaker, encourager. She partners with her husband, Steve, to lead Campus Crusade for Christ globally and writes at www.judydouglass.com, connects on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JeedooDouglass) and tweets @Jeedoo417. And she treasures her seven grandchildren.
C2015 Judy Douglass