JOY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE IN OUR FUTURE
(Thursday, December 15th)
Edginess: being on edge; tense, irritable; characterized by tension; having a bold, provocative, or unconventional quality
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NRSVUE)
During the week before we plan to travel, Jim will often teasingly ask me, “Is it time for you to organize your coupons?” This is his humorous and gentle way of pointing out my edginess before our vacation or weekend trips. When we are going to be away from home for any length of time, I busy myself with tasks that have not mattered for months. Culling expired coupons. Tidying shoe racks. Straightening towels. Alphabetizing spices.
This could be what is called, “getting our affairs in order”, only I do this with minutia. I know that my angst stems from the inner concern, “What if something happens to us while we are away?” I hate to think that our family may find an expired coupon should we not return (I hope you are laughing with me)! My edginess keeps me quite busy until we are finally on our way.
I am eager for our getaways, but edgy in the days leading up to them.
But seriously, this angst, this edginess, can come over us whenever we think about our final getaway. This is when the Advent Joy of Jesus – the Joy of God-with-us, the Joy of promised resurrection – becomes especially dear.
Jim and I recently attended a Christmas gathering, and he introduced me to an old friend. His friend had become quite thin and gaunt after struggling with cancer and other health issues in the past year. But this gentleman radiated joy as he said, “I am praying that I will get to hold my (future) grandchild, but if I don’t, I will get to see my parents, our deceased child, my dear friend – and I will get to see Jesus! Who wouldn’t want that?!” He smiled widely as he envisioned that glorious moment. His excitement for the heavenly kingdom was palpable, and his joy has remained with me.
Advent Joy is our reassuring joy that the heavenly kingdom is even better than what we can fathom, an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Advent Joy can move us from our edginess into eagerness, each time we trust this promise, envision the glory, and imagine our incredible reunion with everyone we love – including Jesus. We will rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.
As with every getaway, my edginess may always remain, but as departure time draws closer, my eagerness will reign. May Advent Joy lessen our edginess and fill our hearts with eagerness for the living of these days – and on into our eternal days.