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Friday, April 19, 2013

A No-Matter-What Kind of Joy

I live in America, the “land of opportunity,” and even though times are tough here, the vast majority of us are wealthy in comparison to other parts of the world. We not only have lists of things to choose from that are purported to bring us happiness, we have reams of lists.

But with all of this, are we really happy?

When I was young (scrolling, scrolling back) we had a woman who’d come to clean our house on occasion. Her name was Mrs. Barnes.inside bus She lived in a comparatively poor neighborhood in Washington D.C. and took several buses to get to our house in the Maryland suburbs. Though she wore a uniform when she cleaned, she always graced our doorstep dressed to-the-nines in the second-hand clothes my mother had given her the week before. She’d peel off her overcoat and turn like a runway model, beaming. “You see what your mother gave me? How does it look?”

She appreciated every little thing.

This woman cleaned like she polished the throne of God. Every thronemuscle pushed against the dirt. All the while singing joyful hymns, praising her Creator. She would even come with craft projects for the spoiled children of her employers—us.

Compared to Mrs. Barnes, I had so much to be thankful for. So much that should have made me happy. And yet I wasn’t, because I lacked the thing that could fill my empty hole—a real relationship with a loving Savior.

Mrs. Barnes had that. It was evident in the Joy that busted from her polyester seems.

I want that kind of Joy. Not a “Happy becuz …” kind of emotion, but a no-matter-what sort of Joy. Not a fickle leave-me-when-times-are-tough, but a there-when-I-need-it-the-most, deep sort of goodness.

I need love. I need forgiveness. I need acceptance for who I am, with a prodding to help me be more.

I need Jesus.

Mrs. Barnes was not a great orator. She did not preach salvation to me. She lived it. And though she was not the catalyst that caused me to finally surrender my life to Christ, she was one of the many who made me look again. Mrs. Barnes will never know the great impact she’s had on my life. I suspect there are many more like her who don’t.

Are you one of those?

Other posts you might like:

Do You Ever Feel Your Offering is too Small?

The Man Who Inspired a Congregation—Sorta

The Button Lady


  1. Connie, what a thought-provoking segment. Thanks for sharing another great post with your viewers!

    Born In Brooklyn, NY, I'm definitely an American. Born in the 20th century and living by grace into the 21st century, I'm bombarded with a push to get swallowed in the mad rush of life that screams I-don't-have-everything-I-want, whether my dream house or even a writing contract as of this date. It's tempting to call things quit, to surrender to the question: what is wrong with me? But, because I believe in God my life is going in the direction He wants it to. Day by day I'm learning this. And it's not an easy lesson to learn, yet I'm shoving aside my human greed and desires for what I know in my heart is His unique journey for me.

    This means shoving aside, too, that I must have my yearnings for the human trappings of an easy life off of my Accomplish List.

    I must believe that God knows exactly what He wants for me, and because He loves me just as He loves us all.

    1. Oh, Elaine, I feel your struggles. So parallel to my own. What I love about stories like those of Mrs. Barnes is that she thought she was just cleaning our house. Maybe she also wanted to minister to us, but she never knew the effect. And yet there WAS an effect. Your life is the same. Follow God's lead and the effect will occur, whether we see it or not.

    2. Connie--wow--you just presented a whole new concept to me on how God works: some of what He accomplishes through us is not necessarily meant for us to benefit from but for others, iows, we may indeed never see the end results. Hope you're not thinking of me as slow, now--LOL.

    3. Oh no! I don't think you slow :o). In the Body of Christ we all have wisdom to share and we all learn from each other. Don't you just love have God puts it all together?!