Surprised by Joy

I have been reading CS Lewis’s book “Surprised by Joy” and finding it very interesting and edifying. The book is unabashed in its description of Lewis’s personal life, which is really direct and refreshing. Lewis was one of my favourite childhood authors. I’m happy to say he’s a wonderful read as an adult as well. A beautiful passage ending his book:

But what, in conclusion, of Joy? For that, after all, is what the story has mainly been about. To tell you the truth, the subject has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian. I cannot, indeed, complain, like Wordsworth, that the visionary gleam has passed away. I believe…that the old stab, the old bitter-sweet, has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever.

But I now know that the experience, considered as a state of my own mind, had never had the kind of importance I once gave it. It was valuable only as a pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, “Look!” The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. “We would be at Jerusalem.”

Not, of course, that I don’t often catch myself stopping to stare at roadside objects of even less importance.

We rejoice and give thanks

Dear God,

We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms, bees, ladybirds and broody hens; for humans tending their gardens, talking to animals, cleaning their homes and singing to themselves; for the rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth, the invention of the wheelbarrow and the existence of the teapot, we give thanks. We celebrate and give thanks.

(Michael Leunig, Australian cartoonist and a lovely, gentle man of enduring Christian faith)

More inspiring prayers can be found in Michael’s book, “When I talk to you – a cartoonist talks to God”:

The joy of the Lord Jesus

Nehemiah 8:10
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

What is the joy of the Lord? I thought I’d share some examples from my own life, that I’ve taken from my blessings journal, that have made me happy in the Lord.

1. I am, from my heart and soul, completely happy cooking and cleaning for my husband (ie. being a “help meet” as per Genesis 2:18). I have never regretted for an instant resigning from my job, which I did in obedience to the Spirit of God’s commandments in scriptures such as 1 Timothy 5:14:

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Since making meals for people and helping my husband, I have been praised by him and others for “cooking up a storm” and being hospitable. After nearly 23 years of sloth and letting others do all the work house-wise, I have discovered the joy of giving from a genuine heart. As it is written:

Acts 20:35
…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

1 Peter 3:13
And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

2. Since I started following Christ, I have been given many opportunities to give alms and serve others. The Lord is doing a good work in my heart because it is learning to put God and others (genuinely) before self.

3. The Lord Jesus has given me grace in many people’s eyes as I seek to serve Him, so that they have treated me kindly and with mercy. For example, I went to a beads shop recently to make a beaded necklace in honour of God. The shop owner was very impatient with her bank on the phone but was patient and considerate with me. She helped me pick out beads and said I could come and make beads in her shop if I liked (as I am new to making such things).

The above are just three quick examples to give you encouragement and hope in your walk with Christ. We all need lifting up at times, as life can be a tricky business. As it is written:

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

My hope at the end of this life is to stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ and to hear Him say:

“…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21)