The Ringleader

March 3, 2011

When tempted to look at circumstances that are not what you would have chosen, it is important to not only to remember but to know that joy is still a choice.

Joy is more powerful than happiness. Not to knock happiness! For all its relative unsturdiness, it is still a highly desirable condition. Nothing wrong with it.  Happiness is a gift, and as with any gift, it is not a choice; circumstances are the giver or at least the courier.  But happiness is much like infatuation: enjoy it while it lasts. Joy however is like love: it is not based on a feeling.  By definition, it holds up, come hell or high water.

The power of joy is consummate.  No matter what events or lack of events are taking place, it is entirely, comprehensively, unequivocally and stupendously possible to transcend them.  To not only be up-lifted, but to feel the peaceful thrill of the wind rifling through the feathers of your ‘faith wings’ as you fly above the limited circumstance that had the nerve to dictate how you should feel or not feel.  Even if it is a veritable circus of circumstances, it is still possible to look down with a renewed perspective, in its proper context. And like a circus, to laugh in the midst of them. You are allowed to be the ring leader.

Even so, it is just as necessary to understand what season your circumstances respresent. Weeping may remain for a night but joy comes in the morning–or as it is so beautifully expressed in Ecclesiates:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

But how does experiencing joy no matter what the circumstance actually work? And why does it work?  It works because the very foundation of joy is not embedded in any earthly circumstance: rather, it is rooted in an eternal place where there is nothing but unshakable, brilliant and all-encompassing joy.  The human experience is fragile, limited.  We are dust from first to last, we live with an expiration date.  The events which at times avalanche upon us can be entirely daunting.  But we still have a choice to choose joy.

I have set Yahweh always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 
You make known to me the path of life;  
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Where there is Presence, there is fullness–where there is fullness, there is joy.