By Katie Kafka
I recently took a trip with my family to the Happiest Place on Earth. You know, that place where darling girls can be princesses, feisty boys get to be pirates, and grown adults sport a set of bedazzled mouse ears. Our moments were filled with sunshine and smiles. Everywhere we went there was something or someone there to foster merriment: parades, festive singing, dancing, boat rides, train rides, clapping, a friendly wave, joking, feasting at mealtime, acrobats, flame throwers, safari rides, celebrations, decadent desserts, thrilling roller coasters, carousels, fireworks, elaborate decorations and pristine landscapes. You name it. They covered it all and then some with the highest degree of excellence–a wonderful vacation indeed.
We made lasting memories and consumed large amounts of “happy,” yet in the midst of it all, I found myself pondering these questions:
- Are happiness and joy one and the same?
- If I am happy, do I also then have joy?
Thanks to the vacation, a vivid image of happy is fresh in my mind. Happiness is such a pleasant and necessary form of expression. It makes our lives lovely. At the same time, happiness tends to be extremely situational, reliant upon our circumstances, and somewhat shallow.
We read in John 15:11 that Jesus desires for us to have joy. Specifically, He wants us to have His joy.
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Oh, how this encourages my soul! The Savior of the world makes it possible for me to be filled to the brim with His completely perfect and abundant joy. What a privilege we have in Christ as we realize that true joy runs deep. Not only does it flesh itself out through the emotion of happiness, but it also allows us to remain grateful, grounded and hopeful regardless of our circumstances.
Are you thinking what I am thinking? YES! Sign me up for joy. How do we get there? What can I do to obtain true joy in my life? We find answers to these questions in the beginning verses of John 15:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit…”
Joy is a result of abiding in Christ. Simply put, make God your focus.
Remain with Him.
Linger in His presence.
Continually seek His face.
Dwell in His love for you.
Wait on His guidance.
Obediently live out His design for your life.
As we choose to live in the company of Christ, He gradually molds and shapes us into a beautiful masterpiece. We begin to recognize how He crafted us on purpose, for a purpose. Our innate response to this divine intentionality becomes overwhelming joy and a posture of praise.
We see this portrayed firsthand in the nativity scene and the birth of baby Jesus. What a precious display of pure joy! I can only imagine how Mary and Joseph treasured their first opportunity to abide in Christ. How they remained with baby Jesus . . . studied the face of their newborn baby. . . lingered in His presence . . . and remembered how they were obedient to His design for that moment. Certainly, Jesus was their Joy.
With the hustle and bustle of Christmas time, there are so many variables competing for our attention. Many of these variables bring a much-needed happiness to those festive gatherings shared with family and friends. My prayer is that we would not just settle in with happiness, but that we would crave a joy that runs deep. May the joy found in Jesus seep into our moments of Christmas celebration and linger in a way that gives us no choice but to marvel in our Messiah.