Speak your living Word to my heart, now and throughout this day and night. I am willing to be your servant with joy, this day. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 8.29-31 (NLT; Inclusive Adaptation)
29I [Lady Wisdom] was there when the One set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries. And when the One marked off the earth's foundations, 30I was the architect at the Deity's side. I was the One’s constant delight, rejoicing always in the Creator’s presence. 31And how happy I was with what the One created—the One’s wide world and all the human family!
The spiritual Master was almost always in an expansive mood. So, his disciples sought to learn the stages their spiritual Teacher had passed through to get to such a divinely happy state.
The Master spoke, “The One first led me to the Land of Action, and I lived there for several years. Then, the One led me to the Land of Sorrows, and I lived there until my heart was cleansed from every inordinate affection. At that point I found myself in the Land of Love. There the burning flames of Love consumed whatever was left of self. This led me to the Land of Silence, where I learned deep mysteries about life, death, and beyond death.”
“Was that the final stage,” asked the disciples, “of your spiritual seeking? “No,” said the Master. “One day the One said, ‘Today I shall take you to the innermost sanctuary of the Temple, to the innermost part of my own heart.’ And, the One led me, then, to the Land of Laughter.”
—Adapted from Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight
Henri J. M. Nouwen, in Here and Now, speaks of the “great challenge of faith.” What is that great challenge? Nouwen says, “The great challenge of faith is to be surprised by joy.”
Children can remind us of the gift of joy and laughter. Nouwen tells of sitting at a dinner table with some friends and discussing an economic depression in the country. They kept speaking of statistics and that increasingly confirmed matters would get worse. Suddenly, a four-year-old son of one of the friends opened the door. He ran to his dad, and he said, “Look, Daddy! Look! I found a little kitten in the yard … Look! … Isn’t she cute?” The little boy stroked the kitten and held it against his face. The whole environment changed for everyone present. The child and kitten became the center of attention. Nouwen comments, “We were surprised by joy!”
Always, it seems, life presents us with this choice. Shall I see myself as a victim and, thus, act like a victim? Shall I see life as a gift and rejoice in how blessed I am? See, no one makes us a victim. We choose to be a victim, if we feel like one.
Victims choose to be victims. If we have learned to gain power by presenting ourselves as a victim, then, we are using victimization selfishly. Some persons seek power by appearing the victim, for they do not discover joy within themselves. These are not joyful persons.
Some persons have learned how to choose joy. They are resilient. They have learned not to rely on external conditions or persons for joy. Certainly, conditions and persons can make our choice to rejoice easier, but we cannot allow conditions and persons to be the source of joy.
The person of joy will express it in different ways. Joy can be expressed in the face and demeanor of quiet contentment. Joy can be expressed in the hilarity of laughter. The same joy underlies both.
Our passage today speaks of the joy of Lady Wisdom in the presence of the One. However, possibly most surprising is the notation that this One took joy, or delight, in Her. Our potential for joy and laughter inheres in the One, thus, such expresses the Image of the One.
Are you a joyful person? Explain your response. If not, how might you begin choosing joy?
Have you been surprised by joy recently? Explain.
Read and prayerfully meditate on the passage cited above from Proverbs?
Affirmation for Today
God delights in me.