I never envisioned someone using a baseball movie in the devotions from my church, but someone has done that this morning. Besides being involved at church, we are also a baseball family so it was a familiar metaphor. The devotion is entitled Field of Dreams, and it spoke of how people will come once something is built. Now, in the movie, the thing being built was a baseball field, but the devotion compared it to what we are hoping to build at church and what we need to be building in our own lives.
Something struck me about the movie metaphor. Playing and watching baseball games was depicted as going back to a time of childhood innocence, or joy, if you will. And yes, childhood is generally a time of joy.
I thought of another time though that is usually a time of joy–when a person first becomes a believer. They are excited about what has happened to them, and they want to share it with everyone they come in contact with. Then, as time progresses, they lose that joy, and everything about their faith becomes more of a chore. What happened? Did they become weighed down with responsibility like the characters in the movie, like a lot of children do as they grow into adulthood? Did suffering and pain enter their lives?
There are as many answers as there are questions as to why someone loses their joy; the joy they felt when they first believed in God. I think some of that might be because of the definition of joy–“a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” When life has weighed people down with its burdens, it’s hard to remember what joy is and how to experience it. God gave us the other feelings too, and we have a hard time thinking that joy can co-exist with other emotions.
But, the joy of God is deeper than the joy of the world. He speaks of this in Scripture. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
I especially liked some of the references from Psalms. Psalm 94:19 says, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Another one was from Psalm 126:5. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
We don’t do a good job of teaching this in the western church. People think they are supposed to be happy all the time in their faith, and when they aren’t, the joy leaves them. The practices of their faith become more of a chore, something to check off on a list.
Some would say this is innate, that joy comes from inside of a person, and while this is true, I believe we have our part in helping new believers to keep their joy in God. This can be done by helping them to develop the disciplines of prayer and Bible study which can also be helpful for older believers. Also, and this is the most important, we all need to walk with each other in community. Having the love and support of other believers in good times and in bad can help all of us as we seek to become closer to God and to have the joy in our faith that we had when we first became believers.
God’s blessings on all of you today!