Thursday, July 06, 2017

"The Thrill is Not Gone"

Nehemiah 8.10b, 12 NIV

“Nehemiah said,... ‘This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.”

Real Joy by Todd Baker

‘The joy of the Lord is my strength.’ I fondly recall singing and clapping to these words, joining a chorus of Full Gospel Business Men at Camp Berachah somewhere around 1980. I was in my mid-20’s and the experience was so real to me then. Me and 800 other guys would change the world!

What I remember most about those days is the joy. Pure and uninhibited moments of elation mixed with a fierce determination to do anything God wanted of me. I had a love for the Bible and felt as though Jesus spoke directly to me from the pages of His written word. 

Oh, the joy! Today, forty years later, I can still recall and feel the joy. It keeps me going. Life has beat me up a little. I am (hopefully) a little wiser and (certainly) a little less idealistic. But the joy is still there. It’s deep and abiding. I trust it. It gives me strength. “The joy of the Lord” is my strength.

Morning after morning I arise to greet Jesus in Scripture. He speaks to me, not in an unspecific, over-spiritualized way that is impossible to define. It’s simple and real. I open the Bible and read. A verse jumps off the page. I feel the excitement. God is speaking. My body is energized and I “celebrate with great joy” inside my soul. Insights, ‘ah-ha’s’, revelations, epiphanies, moments of truth… they converge with a text and, empowered by the Spirit, explode into an actual encounter with the Lord Himself. The joy is unspeakable.

This experience is undeniably the best part of my day, weeks, and years. It helps me begin to make sense of my life and the people, things, and events in it. I have joined the ranks of 2,500 year old saints who, upon hearing Ezra’s proclamation of Torah, felt the joy because they “understood the words that had been made known to them,” The ‘joy of the Lord was truly their strength and mine’. The thrill of joy is not gone. 

It was good back in 1980 at the FGBMI retreat. It’s even better now.
_______________

The beautiful image at the top of this post is called "Real Joy" by Elmhurst, Illinois photographer Todd Baker. You can view his work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/technowannabe/562918256/in/set-72157600017063829.

2 comments:

maffy said...

Wow, Dave. I envy the joy you feel from your readings. That's truly a gift. Maybe someday I'll get there.

Dave Scriven said...

Thank you, my friend Mary Ann.

Dave