Most have heard the phrase, “He’s so heavenly minded, he’s of no earthly good.” So rare is someone like that, that I haven’t met even one. Not in my whole life. In fact, it’s been my experience that the more heavenly minded a person has been, the more crucial they’ve found it to be focussed on the needs of earth. Let me give you an example.
On the weekend Wendy and I attended a workshop on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. That’s a long term to describe the brain damage that occurs to the pre born child when the woman drinks alcohol while pregnant. Six of our seven adopted children have been affected by this tragedy. Hundreds of parents and grandparents were at this conference. Most were, like us, people who had adopted children with FASD. Some were mothers who too late realised that they had damaged their children by drinking while pregnant. Virtually all were people who loved the Lord; we were a huge room filled with heavenly minded people. All who spoke at some point during the weekend gave God’s love for them as the reason for sharing their love with disabled children. There were three characteristics of these heavenly minded people that stood out at this conference:
This post has to do with Joy:
To know love is to know joy. To know joy is to know a deep sense of well-being despite circumstance. The secular, pagan world knows something of pleasure which is tied to pleasure inducing circumstances. Pleasure can be found in a good movie, an intriguing book, an interesting relationship and good mood altering drugs. Pleasure to the pagan world means the absence of pain or illness or loss. Joy and uniquely the joy from the Lord is present in the midst of pain and illness and loss and suffering and tragedy. Joy, the kind that comes to us from Jesus is something that cannot be taken away by life’s events.
The love that comes from God, a self-sacrificing love, comes from a base of joy. This joy is based in the knowledge that all things, even a brain damaged child will most assuredly work together for the good of those who love God and who have been called according to His purpose. Even when explaining His immanent crucifixion to His disciples, Jesus was able to say, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
Since coming to know Jesus my joy has been made complete, in fact, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Through years of physical and sexual abuse, the death of a child, almost five decades of crippling arthritis, cancer and major operations, a base of unshakable joy has been mine. “I have learned the secret of contentment in all circumstances” voiced Paul, and all those who have come into an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus know what he’s talking about. That is why Paul can entreat us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
The workshop that we attended had become a community of people who were able to experience joy in the fullest sense of the word. This, not of our own ability or will but joy as a gift of Creator God.