The LORD Gives Joy
"The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him." (Exodus 15:2)
Angela pressed her face between the white boards of her grandma's backyard fence. She waited there for a minute, listening, and then she ran across to the other side of the yard and pressed her face up against those white boards. After a little while, she ran back to the other side, and then back again.
Grandma had been watching her from the screen door and finally opened it. "Angela, honey, what in the world are you doing?"
Angela put her finger up to her lips and ran up to her grandma. "This is what," she whispered, pointing with both hands to both sides of the back yard. "I am listening to your neighbors!"
Grandma's face looked shocked. "Listening to my neighbors?" she whispered back. "Whatever for?"
"I'm seeing if they are Christians, Grandma." Angela pointed to the neighbor's yard on the right. "That's Mr. Cherian over there – I think he is a Christian!"
Grandma nodded. "Sam Cherian and I have talked about the Lord many times. He is a wonderful brother in Christ."
Then Angela pointed over to the lefthand neighbor's yard. "But I'm just not so sure about Miss Wyler. She just never sings!"
Grandma looked over toward Miss Wyler's yard and said in a very quiet voice, "Angela, why would you say that? There is nothing in the Bible that says we have to sing in order to be genuine believers in Jesus."
"Oh, Grandma – I know that! But sometimes you can really tell the Christians from the non-Christians because they DO sing! Mr. Cherian only has one real leg, and he isn't grouchy at all. When I watch him working in his garden, he is always humming a hymn or singing something! And he usually has a smile on his face, too. He doesn't even sing that great and he has that funny high voice, but he is always singing. There is something different about him, and I think it's something joyful in his heart that makes him sing."
Grandma nodded. "And what have you been noticing as you've watched Miss Wyler working in her garden?"
"Well, she is nice enough to me when I say 'hello' to her. But she just does not seem like a very happy person, inside or out. She hangs around with her cats and mutters under her breath about all the things that keep going wrong in her yard or with the weather. I don't think I've ever seen her smile or heard her sing a single note."
"I see what you mean, honey," said Grandma. She put her arm around Angela's shoulder and led her inside the house. "Wilma Wyler does seem to have a hard time remembering that there's more to life than her cats and good gardening weather. I don't know if she's a true Christian or not. One thing I do know is that all of us struggle sometimes to remember God – don't we? We get caught up in our worries and our work, and we forget that His goodness and greatness are bigger and better and longer-lasting than any of our problems."
"I guess that's true for me, too," said Angela. "And I am a Christian! But I guess sometimes I don't act like somebody who knows Jesus. If I'm really believing God is as good and great as His Word says He is, I have a lot of reason to be happy, even when things don't go like I want. Kind of like Mr. Cherian singing in his garden even though his garden gets the exact same weather Miss Wyler's garden gets. And Mr. Cherian has no cats and only one leg!"
"That's right, honey. As long as we are right with God, we have every reason to rejoice in all that He has done and all that He is. Singing is one way Christians can show that our happiness is in God instead of in our circumstances." She poured Angela a glass of lemonade and leaned over the table to hand it to her, smiling widely. "Maybe the next time we're out back, we should sing a little song, just in case Mr. Cherian or Miss Wyler decide to 'listen' to their neighbors?"
God's goodness and greatness are reasons enough for a Christian to "rejoice evermore."
» What do I think I need in order to be "happy"?
» Do I think of salvation as something worth singing about?
» Who is my Source for real and lasting joy?
Truth In Real Life
“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”
In 1904, William Borden graduated from high school – the whole world at his fingertips. Born as the heir to a massive family fortune, Borden was a millionaire by the time he was sixteen years old. As a graduation present, his parents gave him a trip around the world.
As he traveled to places such as Asia and Europe, he felt a terrible burden in his heart for the people he saw. Millions around the world were dying without the Savior.
God convicted his heart during this trip, and he wrote his parents a letter that said, “I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field.” About this same time he also wrote in his Bible these two words – “No reserves.” He planned to hold nothing back.
Borden came home to the United States and attended college at Yale University. While there, he started a small prayer group that grew into a group of 1,000 students before he finished at Yale. He was known for making an effort to reach out to some of the hardest and meanest students in the school. He wanted to see Jesus Christ save them.
The plan that began to formulate in Borden’s mind was to go to China as a missionary worker. People told him he was foolish to throw away his life as a millionaire, but he believed better. Following his college graduation, he turned down high-paying job opportunities and wrote two more words in his Bible – “No retreats.” He would not hide from God’s drawing and calling on his life.
On December 17, 1912, Borden finally left for the next step in his missionary preparation: Language study in Egypt. Soon after his arrival in Egypt, however, he contracted spinal meningitis and became deathly ill. Within one month, he was dead. His friends and acquaintances back home and around the world lamented the tragedy and declared it such a “waste” of life.
But William Borden, who had once said, “Say ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus every time” would not have agreed with the popular opinion about his tragic death. When his family members recovered his Bible, they found two more words added to the first four. At the time of his death, it read: “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”
If you were to die today, would you have regrets about the way you spent your time and other resources? What does God consider a “waste”? Are you living your life with a long, eternal view of what is most valuable, or are you listening too much to what the world says about what’s most important?
Philippians 1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.