Chase Joy - A Message From Annie F. Downs
We recommend reading to the bottom.
Kelley’s birthday was a few weeks ago. Partway through the meal, our group of friends gathered around the table started talking about puzzles. I don’t remember how or why, don’t judge us, it just happened. And very casually (TOO casually, I would say) Kelley mentioned that she can’t do puzzles.
Can’t do puzzles? That doesn’t make any sense, right? We all got questioning looks on our faces, and she continued to tell us that she can’t ever find the edge pieces and people always say to put the edge pieces together first. But she can’t find them.
We started laughing. Not that like small quiet laugh, but that kind of laugh where people are gripping onto the table and wiping away tears and unable to get words out, BECAUSE HOW CAN YOU NOT FIND THE EDGE PIECES?
We hadn’t laughed like that in a while. Where one person starts, and it’s suddenly massively contagious. It felt great.
Kids laugh approximately 400 times a day. A DAY.
Adults laugh only 25 times a day.
That’s not enough.
Joy is contagious. We should be sharing it, spreading it, living in it. Even if you don’t win every trophy, even if you don’t have everything you want, even if things are harder or stranger or more complicated than you thought they would be, we should be chasing joy.
Joy matters. I’m not talking about happiness - that’s a different word with a different meaning. Happiness deals with your situation and circumstances. Joy is a deeper thing; a knowledge of God, His kindness and presence in everyday moments.
One of my favorite quotes about joy comes from Frederick Buechner. He says, “We tend to think that joy is not only not properly religious but that it is even the opposite of religion. We tend to think that religion is sitting stiff and antiseptic and a little bored, and that joy is laughter and freedom and reaching out our arms to embrace the whole wide and preposterous earth, which is so beautiful that sometimes it nearly breaks our hearts. We need to be reminded that at its heart Christianity is joy and that laughter and freedom and the reaching out of arms are the essence of it.”
Joy matters because an absence of joy, the deep belief that you are safe in God and with God, will actually create weakness in your life. Joy is where we find our strength. This is why we have to focus everyday on doing these three things:
We have to chase joy. Every day. More than 25 times a day. Joy will not chase you, but it loves to be caught. You know what chases you (and me)? Frustration. Disappointment. Discontentment. THOSE love to chase you and make you believe that life is actually more evil than good, more disappointments than gifts, more pain than healing.
We have to choose joy. Even when it feels like the opposite of what we want to feel, even when it feels impossible. We have to chase it and then choose it.
Then we have to believe joy. Joy tells us that death does not win. Joy is saying THIS WILL NOT BEAT YOU.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)
Kelley’s birthday party was extra special to us this year. She turned 39 and has decided to walk 400 miles this year. That’s a huge deal because Kelley has MS. A year ago, she was using a cane and often in a wheelchair. But because of God’s healing and some amazing doctors in Nashville, she is actually healing. (The doctors don’t really know what to do with it, actually. Miracles are fun like that.) The MS is not gone, but she is being restored. She has found joy in the midst of this disease, in the middle of the darkness. And she is chasing it. Choosing it. Believing it. Because her joy has a name. Jesus.
Her joy is not in her circumstances or her health. Her joy is not in things that can change. Her joy is Him.
And joy will be yours. Always.
P.S. The first 200 people who fill out this form might receive a pop of joy in the mail very soon.