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What Brings You Joy?

April 22, 2019

What brings you joy?

This is a question that was recently asked of me. It is an appropriately happy and hopeful question following the celebration of Easter. A few things come immediately to my mind:

I feel joy for my daughter. Recently she began a new job in Animal Protection. Working with (but not for) the police, she investigates possible animal abuse on ranches and private residences. She absolutely loves her job. It feels important and fills her with passion. After the past two years exploring several different vocations, and having diverse and challenging experiences, but still feeling unsatisfied, she now says she has found the work she wants to do till she’s 80!

I feel joy for my son. His employer recently moved him from halftime to full time, which means he now receives medical benefits–just in time. His responsibilities and abilities have grown, and he continues to enjoy his work, his coworkers, and his network of friends.

I feel joy for my wife. Our 30th anniversary is coming up, and it’s been a delight for me to realize just how perfectly suited my wife has been for me. My appreciation for her grows.

I feel joy for my congregation. It is heartening to see many new people worshiping with us, and new babies being born. There is an atmosphere of warmth, liveliness, diversity, service to others, and gratitude.

I feel joy in finding my voice. I have always enjoyed writing, preaching and teaching, but I feel like I am doing all of it better now than ever before. I am passionate about addressing certain crucial issues in my writing, and certain ideas are coming together for me in powerful ways. I think I may have something important to contribute.

I feel joy for the friends I have made over the years. I am glad for the many people I have pastored or befriended over the last several decades. Among them are a few very close friends. I don’t see them often since we now live far apart, but that means the times when we can get together are all the more special.

What brings me joy are the personal things happening in my life. On the other hand, when I look at our society, our politics, and our wider world, I am not feeling much joy. In fact, I am deeply alarmed. Today is Earth Day, but it is not a good day for planet Earth.

Nevertheless, the pendulum always swings; and when it swings too far in one direction, it inevitably begins swinging in the other direction. The missteps of today may show us more clearly the right path for tomorrow.

To do real good in this world, I think we first need to find our joy. Only when we know what truly gives us joy will we be attractive to others and thereby effective in doing good for the sake of tomorrow.

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