“Their children will see it and be joyful; theirs hearts will rejoice in the Lord.” Zechariah 10:7
There is no better combination than children and Christmas. Their sweet smiles, joyous laughter and excitement are contagious. A child’s heart is wide open, and his wonder and delight will warm even the coldest Scrooge’s heart. Children have an enormous capacity for joy, a trait that we tend to lose as we “mature” into adults. Sure, it’s fine for children to be giddy over the sights and sounds of Christmas, but we are grown-ups and must behave in a more dignified manner. Oh yeah – who says?
When was the last time you were so overcome with joy and delight that you thought your heart would nearly explode? How did you react to that exuberance? When my son was small, and he would get excited, he would do what I called his “seal clap of joy,” clapping his little hands together in fast repetitions. It always made me laugh, not just his clapping, but the excitement and delight that bubbled out of him. This week, someone did a very simple and kind favor for me, and it made me so joyful I did my own a seal clap of joy. Me – at my age! But I have decided that I’m done being so “adult” all the time – and when joy and delight wash over me, I’m going to let it have its way.
Some of the greats of the Bible didn’t hide their joy in the Lord. David was king over the nation of Israel, a leader and the country’s sovereign, but he gave himself over to moments of great joy. In 2 Samuel 6, David is leading a processional that is bringing the Ark of the Lord back to its rightful place in Jerusalem, after it had been captured by Israel’s enemy. The Ark was the symbol of God’s presence with His people, and it stayed in the most Holy place in the Tabernacle, where only the High Priest could enter, and only once a year to make atonement for the sins of the people. But the Israelites faced a mighty enemy, and so they brought the Ark to the battle, believing they were bringing the presence and power of the Lord to insure their victory. But in this battle, the Israelites fell and the Ark was captured, because of the sin of their present king, Saul. Now the Ark was being returned to the Israelites. Verse 14 describes David’s reaction as the ark made its way back into the city of Jerusalem. “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” This great dignified king danced with joy down the streets of the city. David found great joy and delight in the return of the presence of God among His people. And rather than appearing childish and immature to the people, his exuberant dance of joy to the Lord endeared him all the more to his subjects. Except for one person, his wife Michal who thought him “vulgar” and undignified. David did not accept her chiding, because he knew that he danced before the Lord.
David leaves us two important lessons about joy: first, don’t try to squelch those joyful feelings, but give in to them. Dance, sing, jump, rejoice – let joy fill you to the brim and overflow onto everyone around you. Secondly, there will always be people who don’t appreciate your joy – there will always be Scrooges and Grinches who will “bah humbug” over your delight. Be joyful anyway – maybe it will bring a smile to their faces as well.
Let this Christmas bring a childlike joy to your heart – a joy that shows on your face and spreads out all around. Share some Christmas joy this season, it’s a gift you can give to others that always gives back to you.
Holy Father, fill my heart with the joy that comes only from, let if overflow and spill out on everyone I meet today. I want to be a joy-giver, and let the world know the joy I’ve found in You. Amen.