There is something irresistible and attractive about deep, genuine joy that radiates out from a soul that knows it is loved. Such a person could be in great suffering interiorly or physically and could even be struggling to make peace with the circumstances of his or her life, and yet there can be a steady and other-worldly glow that comes forth from the core of their being.
On the other hand, there are so many of us who fastidiously observe religious practices and are so busily involved with religious activities and who may even often have scripture quotes on the ready and have a head full of knowledge about God and doctrine, but there is a quality to our religious zeal that lacks warmth, compassion, and joy. Why? There can be many reasons, I suppose, but at the heart of it, there seems to be a restless drivenness borne out of insecurity. Our religiosity seem to revolve around trying to save our souls and others instead of a bearing of fruit from a constant falling into mercy and grace ourselves.
Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. If we allow ourselves to be soaked in the love of God and to let the Holy Spirit breathe in us freely, we cannot help but become joyful. When we become even more deeply rooted in God’s love, we will find that this joy that bubbles forth from a heart that knows it is unconditionally and completely loved becomes greater in times of suffering and strife and becomes a window for others to glimpse a hope this world cannot offer.
I have found that joy is an effective litmus test of the soul. If and when I lack joy, I know it is time to seek an even deeper encounter with the Lord. Without joy, I am a poor witness to love no matter how much I labour or how perfect my religious observances. But when I am steeped in God’s love, then I find I am joyful and grateful in the face of my many transgressions and imperfections because I am connected to the source of all that is holy and good, and I KNOW that as long as I keep falling into God’s arms and desiring Him more deeply, He will do what is impossible for me to do – be loving and joyful in my brokenness.
I desire the fullness of love that transforms my fearful heart into a heart bursting with joy! Don’t you?