I’ll be honest and admit that joy’s been a bit allusive for us around here. There are dear ones in my circle facing insurmountable difficulties, and I am (truly) powerless to make any of it better. These dark days in the lives of the ones I love have caused me to look just a bit harder for the light. Maybe this conversation I had recently with joy, at the intersection of Isaiah 55 and some Christmas hymns, says it best:
We see you there:
Close enough to touch,
but a thousand miles away.
With Eve we reach for you–
toward the garden’s one forbidden tree.
That which we hold, what we think will fill us–
betrays us and leaves us emptier still.
So we wander this thorn-infested ground1–
and search for you,
far as the curse is found1–
Hungry. Thirsty. Alone.
Weren’t you ours for the taking?
God knows we’ve tried. (He knows.)
So we’ll earn you instead:
By the light of our laptops,
with our hands,
at schools and offices,
from our homes, and in these pews.
We’ll be the best version of ourselves–
yet you’ll elude us still.
For what satisfies is bought
“without money and without cost.”2
So we stumble in the “dark of doubt”3–
we wade through “sin and sadness”3
within and without–
Hungry. Thirsty. Alone.
Maybe we’ve looked for you in all the wrong places.
Maybe we need to listen instead of look.
we hear a Voice say,
“All you who are thirsty . . .
Hear me, that your soul may live.4
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
Call on him while he is near.”5
For mercy. (Undeserved)6
And pardon. (Unearned) 6
What began at one garden-tree–
ended in Gethsemane,
and with a Savior nailed to another:
An “everlasting covenant”7
Not taken or earned –
You HAVE come!
The King of kings and angels,
The Good Shepherd,
The “God of glory, Lord of love.”3
You greet us here, in the last way we thought possible:
Lying in a feeding trough.
For Your ways and thoughts are not our own.
Like the heavens, they are higher.8
but nevermore alone,
we “come and behold” You:9
The Giver of living water, the Bread of life.
And, we, with “heaven and nature sing”1–
of a covenant kept,
a curse lifted,
a soul satisfied,
Your word–not empty–but complete.
Here in Your presence, we find it:
The fullness of joy. 10
1 Joy to the World!
2 Isaiah 55:1-2
3 Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
4 Isaiah 55:1, 3
5 Isaiah 55:6
6 Isaiah 55:7
7 Isaiah 55:3
8 Isaiah 55:9
9 O Come, All Ye Faithful
10 Psalm 16:11