Keys to the Kingdom By Carolyn Tucker
While in Sunday school class back in the 1980s, I heard a definition of “joy” that I’d never heard before and have never forgotten. Joy was explained as simply “Jesus” “Others” and “You.” At the beginning of 2023, I chose joy as my word for the year. My maternal grandfather, Lawrence, was affectionately referred to as “Lawrency.” Although he died before I was born, I’ve heard many stories regarding the funny things he said and his comical outlook on life. My Grandpa and Grandma Jennings had 13 children, so I’m sure their sense of humor and ability to laugh helped them raise that passel of youngins.
Since I come from a laughing family, I’m naturally drawn toward those who love to laugh. I actually look for excuses to laugh at myself. While shopping, I spotted a piece of metal décor that was fashioned into the word “LAUGH.” I studied it for a few seconds and quickly decided that it belonged in my home. It’s the first thing you see when you walk into my kitchen. The Bible states, “A merry heart does good like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22 NKJV). I had a severe allergic reaction once to a certain antibiotic, but I’ve never had a negative reaction to laughter. I always feel fantastic when get tickled and belly laughs erupt while tears of hilarity run down my face. Laughing is truly a blessing from God. Mom always said, “You might as well laugh as cry.”
I’ll be the first to admit that life’s not always a bowl of cherries. But even when it’s a bowl of gravel, I don’t want to be a sad sack. I don’t want to be a partly-cloudy person; I choose to be a partly-sunny person. I expect the joy of the Lord to show up in my life every day because He loves and cares for me and I love Him. As a kid, I remember singing this song in church: “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it. If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”
Scripture reveals the truth about where a believer’s joy comes from. “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NLT). God enables us, through the Holy Spirit, to have hope, joy, and peace when life’s circumstances are heavy.
Without Jesus in their hearts, people don’t even have the proper tools to love God, others, and themselves. Life without Jesus means we’re just selfish to the core. Selfishness will ruin every relationship you ever try to develop. However, anyone can choose Jesus as Savior and then be filled with His love and joy. “He [Jesus] will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of His birth” (Luke 1:14 NIV).
Loving others by serving them, being good to them, and including them brings joy to both individuals. Enjoying life is a choice and attitude of the heart. Experiencing joy is a privilege and blessing from God that lifts us above life’s challenging turn of events. When believers are a blessing to others, it will ricochet back to us in astonishing ways. Simply do what God leads you to do and watch Him work joy into your life. When we surrender every part of our being as an offering to love God and others, it’s certain to bring us joy.
The Key: The joy of the Lord often erupts in laughter, so grab your belly and go for it!