Joy…as Pastor Lawrence reminded us Sunday, it is not circumstantial, but from the Lord. And Paul exhorts us in the imperative to “rejoice” multiple times throughout the New Testament. It is something we know we should do, and have, but how to actually obtain it?

As per usual, I find a quote from C.S. Lewis thought-provoking. He says in his introduction to On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius, “For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that “nothing happens” when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”

Was Lewis just an intellectual and naturally stimulated by things others would not be? I don’t think so. I think there is a simple profound truth here.

Devotional books can be wonderful, but they tend to be all about personal application. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but when you think about it, the focus is still on the self. “How does this apply TO ME?” Studying theology, which simply means “the study of God,” transfers the focus from us, solely to him. Devotional books also attempt to remind us to look to Him, but with that additional focus on self, they may not be quite as successful.

A further observation is the fact that as limited human beings, there is only so much interest that we can maintain, even in ourselves. But the unlimited, mysterious being that loves us and allows us to explore Him?? It’s an endless source of joy, and as we continue in contemplation of Him, joy unexpectedly wells up and sustains us. Nothing is forced…we don’t have to convince ourselves to have it. It just happens. It’s an endless circle that leads back to Him. HE is the source of joy and even His simple being and existence gives us the ability to obey the command to have joy and rejoice! Incredible.

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