I spent half of my childhood education in a parochial school system where I learned much more than reading, writing and arithmetic. Every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance we recited the school pledge and motto. If I close my eyes now, I can still hear my classmates and I declaring each statement with every ounce of authority that we could muster. It was a serious business as we were awarded for our ability to memorize these treasures. Even after all these years, there are two parts of the motto that I hold dear, one of which is “keep a song in your heart”.
The chatter of this life can be distracting and overwhelming. Although you start your day with one frame of mind, it is easy to get bounced off track by the background noise. Your mental objectives for the day can easily become blurred and bent. Self-control, gentleness and kindness have taken a back seat to the values being displayed at large as evidenced by the prominent adult figures parading about fueling the fires of chaos. Television networks and the Internet are replete with stories glamorizing the conflict; and although you cannot control the way other people act, amidst all this confusion, you can choose joy.
How do we experience joy in a world filled with fear? For most of the chatter of this world is grounded in fear. And when the masses buy into the fear, we see captivated audiences banding together against the very nature of joy. How do we guard our hearts and our minds against such turmoil?
There is a plethora of evidence that a man named Jesus from Nazareth walked this earth. We even mark time by his existence, BC and AD. He made bold claims and proclaimed otherworldly promises. It has been said that He was either a lunatic or telling the truth. Eyewitness accounts are recorded in the Scriptures that display a loving, helpful person in the character of Jesus. He called certain men to be His disciples and instructed them to spread the Good News. He was the ultimate sacrificial lamb, crucified for our sins and was resurrected on the third day.
In John 16 as Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure from earth, He speaks of the coming Advocate and of joy. He states “…you will weep and mourn as the world rejoices” (v.20), “…but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (v.22), and finally “Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete” (v24). Do you see it? “No one will take away your joy and “your joy will be complete.” Not might be, not can be, but will be complete; and no one will take it away. In Romans we find Paul instructing people not to judge others or become stumbling blocks. In 14:17 he wrote “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” There is again, the word joy. The word translated to joy in John 16:22,24 and Romans 14:17 is the same Greek word chara. It means joy, delight, awareness of God’s grace, favor (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, accessed at biblehub.com). Let that sink in…. an “awareness of God’s grace, favor”.
We need to daily give our fears to God and remind ourselves that we have access to the joy in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Total submission to the awareness of God’s grace and favor. The enemy does not want you to remember this, he wants to keep you focused on fear. Paul’s advice to the church in Corinth was to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5b). Giving each worry, each opinion and every tweet or post in between to Him will guide you into the freedom of His joy. When I let go and focus on Christ, I see the world differently and I am not as weighted by trouble. I realize the promise of peace when I keep my mind on Him (Is. 26:3). Strife may continue, but when I allow the joy of Christ to live inside me it carries me through the flames of conflict with the knowledge that I am cradled in His arms.
Keep a song in your heart.