Saturday, July 31, 2010

Define "Joy"

In his book, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis observes, "All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still 'about to be'." (78)  To my mind, Lewis was one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century, and he wrote an entire book explaining the concept of "joy" and how he found it. This quote, however, provokes thought. What exactly is "joy?"

The Bible (and a number of children's songs) talk about the "joy of the Lord."  Philippians 4:4 commands believers to "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS." (emphasis mine) The Old Testament talks about "joyful singing" as a response to blessing and triumph, but in the New Testament, James writes that believers should "Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds..." (James 1:2) How can the same term be applied as a response in the best of times and the worst of times? Then there is the response of the Israelites when God accepted the first offerings of the Aaronic priesthood: "Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown" (Leviticus 9:24.)

Based on biblical sources then, "joy" must be a response rather than a feeling or something to grasp. The Leviticus passage indicates it is intense, while the other passages show that the circumstances aren't a factor in it. Lewis recognized it as a desire for that which is unattainable because it is too far past or too far away or too far in the future.

It occurs to me that Lewis may have been more accurate if he had said and instead of or. (Not that I claim to compete with his intellect, and I recognize that this statement is fairly early in his memoir.)  What is joy?  Joy is a response to a glimpse that creates a longing for what cannot be known precisely because HE is "longer ago" and "further away" and "still 'about to be.'" 

Humanity, in its limited perspective, cannot understand joy entirely, because joy is experiencing the holy, knowing God intimately, and worshipping Him passionately. We catch moments now and then when the veil of the finite mind is lifted and we see that Shekhinah glory out of the corner of our minds' eye. Those moments serve to intensify our longing for HIM, the "longer ago" and "further away" and "still 'about to be.'"

Paul wrote,  "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12) That hope and longing and desire is the essence of joy, and knowing that the time will come when we are in His presence requires us to fall on our faces before Him crying, "Holy is He. Hallelujah."

Works Cited
Lewis, Clive Staples, Surprised by Joy; The Shape of My Early Life, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, NewYork and London, 1955
Bible Gateway. Zondervan. 1995-2009. Web. 31 July 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I never really had close girlfriends growing up. I knew lots of people, but I wandered from group to group without ever fully being part of one. I missed out on some of those wonderful relationships that last a lifetime--the ones where friends get together regularly and are in each others weddings and together for every life milestone. Because I didn't ever have that core group of friends, I am able to mix and mingle with all types of people, so I wouldn't change anything.

Having said that, I love that Corinne has a core group of good friends who may well last a lifetime. I can see these girls meeting at the beach once a year or throwing baby showers for each other years from now. I hope they will continue to cherish each other and nurture their friendships.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Make up your own clever pun...I've been playing with my Silhouette again:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Stormiest Day at the Beach... better than the sunniest day at work!

Good friends allowed me to crash their beach rental for a few days--and I am soooo grateful! It was glorious to hear the crash of the waves and bask in the glow of the sun (well-sunscreened, of course.) One day was mostly stormy, but that just meant more time for the hammock and a book.

What a blessing!!!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Independence Day

I am enjoying the warm breezes off the Gulf of Mexico in Gulf Shores, Alabama this week. It is refreshing to mind, body, and soul. I've also taken about 600 pictures...most of them multiples with changes in shutter speed, aperture, and other manual settings.  I merged my two favorites into a digital scrapbook page. The background is a shot I took of fireworks on the beach. The other photo is my daughter and her boyfriend. I love the joy on her face, and the flag in the background is just the perfect compliment.

The oil spill has impacted the economy more than the beaches here. It's really sad to see all the empty rentals lining white sand beaches and clean water. From time to time there is a remnant of slick, but it dissipates quickly. There are tar "patties" on the beach, but they're easy to avoid and there are cleaning crews working up and down the beach to keep it clean. It's still a beautiful place to vacation...or retire.......hmmmmmm...

Saturday, July 03, 2010


I've been reading through a devotional just before bed. It's a 31 day journey, and I'm on my third time through. One line that I missed the first two times was this: "That You should allow Your creature to have fellowship with You is wonderful enough; but that You can desire it, that it gives You satisfaction and joy is almost too much for my understanding." (The Quiet Time, Downer's Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1945)


Seriously. The God of the Universe, Creator of All Things, Sovereign Lord of Time and Space, Ruler over All Nations, Judge of All Iniquities, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient---THAT "You" desires fellowship with me. No, that's not almost too much for my understanding; that's completely and totally beyond comprehension.

And yet it is true. And I am grateful.