Wednesday, Dec. 14 – Andrew Woods

14 Dec

Week 3: Joy
Today’s Scripture:
Psalm 51
Mark 1:1-8

It is because the last four years I’ve picked with which parent to spend Christmas. It is because my brothers show only mild interest in meeting up once a year, if convenient. It is because I no longer associate home with the holidays. It is because materialism and conditional love pervert the season so deeply that I hear the unnecessary apologies of my parents for making me choose and for not being able to afford any gifts. It is because they sometimes prematurely break eye contact, lose words, and let slip broken expressions meant for no one but the NFL announcers on T.V. It is because I can’t make any of them realize how I love them. It is because similar and immeasurably worse situations are the realities of other people all over the world, in my own town and church. “It” is why I have joy.

Though I have not always been joyful about such things, this year I noticed something that changed my perspective. As the celebration of Jesus’ birth, Christmas illuminates the truth that God came to be with us; that God saw the brokenness of this world and decided, out of love for his people and Creation, to send His only Son to pay the price for humanity’s sin and overcome death. In light of this sacrifice, I recognize my choice to either continue yearning for something to be done about the brokenness of my family and our world, or I can choose to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and rejoice in the sublime certainty that IT has already been done. I consider my suffering Joy, as it continuously redirects me toward the redemption given abundantly in the coming of Jesus and his work on the cross; for with eyes to see the world’s brokenness, God also grants me the vision to experience his reparation.

For the joy of the Lord is not a thing, hands cannot touch it in corporeal form, nor do taste or smell characterize it. This intangible nature of joy mirrors that of a dream, but a vivid dream can be a powerful experience. Transcending the vicarious potential of books and movies, dreams can provide a different way of experiencing life. The difficulty and greatness of dreams is their experiential nature: dreams enable people to experience life differently than the reality they wake up in, but dreams are only understandable while being experienced. Joy shares this state with dreams, a state of being which catalyzes a shift in perception, a different way of experiencing life. It is not emotional, nor has it anything to do with how you feel. Joy is a transformation of sight that inspires emotion. Joy is the state of being in which a boy sees his broken family and thanks God for Jesus Christ, then with thanksgiving picks up his own cross and co-labors with Christ. The world may not understand this, but that’s to be expected. For in trying to share a dream one almost instantly realizes the audience will never fully understand the experience. Such is the case for joy.

And anyway, Joy is not something to be understood, but a way of understanding, something only to experience. Neither can we trigger joy by our will than can we trigger a dream; to dream we pursue sleep–to know joy we pursue God.



3 Responses to “Wednesday, Dec. 14 – Andrew Woods”

  1. Matt Walters December 14, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    “Joy is not something to be understood, but a way of understanding…” One of the many rich ideas in this excellent and challenging reflection, Andrew. Thanks for this.

    • Andrew Woods December 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      You are welcome and thank you. Knowing there is still richness within is nice as I left many of my thoughts and convictions out. Jane certainly was a partner in this, she not only edits incredibly well but she knows my mind and spirit, contains me, and supplements wonderfully.

  2. Matt Renfer December 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Such a fascinating take on joy and our need for it beyond the brokenness of this world.

    I’ve found that inherent in believing for the first time is recognizing the otherworldly aspect of the joy we seek and that its source is found in none other than a personal relationship with Christ.

    Thanks for your insight, Andrew.

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