Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
"Magic Kingdom"

"Magic Kingdom"

We are made in God’s image.  By super nature we are designed for love.  We also need truth and goodness.  Most of us would agree without these things we don’t thrive.  Less apparent, but no less true, we require joy to flourish.  Perhaps, second only to peace, we long for joy — real, substantial, long lasting joy!

God is joy — it’s his nature.  The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a very happy, completely happy within themselves; but they desire to share their joy with us.  (John 14,15 and 17)

“Joy bubbles and brims at the heart of God, the heart of reality.  God is an overflowing fountain of joy, a volcanic explosion of joy, a trillion burning suns of joy, a joy that would utterly break our hearts if we touched even a drop of it at its source.  He is the joy that does break our hearts with love and longing whenever we catch a taste of it in human love or see the shadows of it in the beauties of nature  … ‘What would it be to taste at the fountain-head that stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating?  Yet that, I believe, is what lies before us.  The whole man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy.'”
(Everything You Wanted To Know About Heaven by Peter Kreeft, page 197)

Sometimes, I perceive a reservoir of joy — running like a stream deep inside of me.  Occasionally, I experience a joy so exquisite and keen, that I feel as if my body cannot contain it; it overflows so powerfully in my senses that its almost painful — like when I was a child eating ice-cream too fast.

Joy is not a feeling, even though I use feeling words to describe it.  It is much deeper than feeling.  Joy is also not natural even though we experience it naturally.  We know that joy is supernatural because we, and others are aware of it at the most unnatural times.  In hardship, distress, suffering, persecution and even to the point of martyrdom, joy may be present.

Perhaps, today we need an outpouring of joy more than at any other time in history.  Kreeft makes the point, “When I look around me — more, when I look inside me — I see such ridiculous joylessness that it seems as if the Good News was never preached.  The common Christianity in the land is: ‘God exists and love your neighbor.’  This is not the Good News; in fact, it is neither good nor news, but a poor platitude inexplicably encumbered by a transcendental mystification.”  (Id. at 195-196)

Kreeft goes on to say, “One of the crucial differences between the Christianity of the New Testatment and ‘the ordinary Christianity of the land’ is the difference  between the crazy, total joy of the former, the joy that put songs on martyrs’ lips, and the joylessness of the latter. ” (Id. at 196)  Perhaps our lives would be better if we had more joy; maybe our evangelism would be more effective if we demonstrated more joy?

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression or add one more thing to your self-improvement list.  “Joy is not something to work up, or imagine, or strive to attain.  It is.  It is not first of all a human feeling but a divine reality, not a future earthly goal but a present Heavenly achievement.  And the Kingdom of Heaven has come to earth.  That is the Good News.”  (Id. 196-197)  Joy is a supernatural invasion, a close encounter with the divine.

I have a friend who loves to go to Disney World.  She and her family make annual trips to the Magic Kingdom.   Without fail, as the time approaches for their trip, her outlook on life gets better and better.  One day I suggested that she would be very happy if she lived each day as if she were in the Magic Kingdom.  Although this seems illogical, I think it is a good idea; we do live every day of our lives in a magic kingdom — a secret kingdom, at least for those of us who believe.

Kreeft makes a similar point.  “This joy is not an ideal but a given reality.  It is given not only to saints and mystics but to all Christians … God is joy.  And He gives Himself (and therefore joy) without limit, without stinginess.  The only limit is on our part …” (Id. at 197-198)  So why don’t we experience this joy and live in it?  According to Kreeft, “[o]nly because [we] don’t believe it.”  (Id. at 201)  Like so many things we desire, there is a connection between what we want and faith.

My daughter Anna Kate experiences deep joy, not all the time, but sometimes.  At other times she is aware of a simple joy, just below the surface of the duties of daily living.  Anna Kate has come to appreciate that she is living the life God has prepared for her to live.  Is it perfect?  Not at all.  Is she perfect? No.  Is it hard sometimes? Yes.  But she knows her life is perfectly suited to her and she embraces it.  She has found her “happy place” and she believes it.

Luc, Sabine, Noah and grandchildren

When I look outside in my back yard (some day I will write more about my back yard) I see many wonderful things.  One in particular concerns my friends, the Ceyssens.  Luc and Sabine Ceyssens, have six children and four grandchildren.  They are a wonderful Flemish family, originally from Belgium.  The Ceyssens and one of their daughters and her family, share a common back yard with us.  Their other married daughter lives across the street from them and their married son lives a short block away.  Their extended family, including grandchildren are constantly sighted in the back yard.

I enjoy seeing all of them.  Sometimes I wonder if Luc and Sabine appreciate how good they have with their grandchildren living nearby.  I am sure that they do, but I can’t help but be curious about it.  Frankly, every once in a while I am a little envious.  I can’t help but hope that I might some day have grandchildren living close by and playing in the back yard.  Yet these wishful thoughts do not take away my joy.  I rejoice in the life God has given me.

Anna Kate, Ray and little Emmett live in Tempe, Arizona.  It’s only 1500 miles and some change away as the airplane flies.  Would I like for them to live close by? Yes I would, but I am glad they live where they do.  Because I know (believe/have faith) they are right where they are supposed to be; for now, they are in their happy place and that makes me happy too.

We don’t always have the power to change our outward circumstances.   But we do have authority over what we believe — what we see and perceive with the eyes of faith.  The kingdom of God really does dwell within us and the kingdom consists of peace, joy and righteousness in the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 14:17)  So today, I am in my “happy place” too, full of joy.

What about you?

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    i feel like i live in a kind of disney world…in a place of happiness, crazy rides and never ending things to do and see! but this place is called home and it is filled with the love of jesus, my family and committed christian friends. actually i guess it is more like the magic kingdom or epcot because it is only a small part of a larger life called christianity(and for me more specifically the alleluia community). there is much to be joyful about if we can just see beyond what seems to be painful or non fullfilling or whatever doesn’t go perfectly in our life. in fact it is joy that enables us to do just that. what a shame i don’t always project that joy…gives me something new to work on…thanks mark!

  2. Great comment. I love when you say “if we can just see beyond what seems to be painful or non fulfilling or whatever doesn’t go perfectly …” We all have a choice, don’t we. We can focus on the good or we can focus on the bad. One leads to joy and thanksgiving. The other leads to discontentment and self-pity.

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