A few months ago after awkwardly explaining to a small group of highschoolers our first retreat ice-breaker, I found myself staring at a pile of magazines wondering how I could accurately describe myself in a simple collage. I started rifling through and ripping out whatever I could find: . . . an ad for coffee (self-explanatory), a woman’s mouth (weird, I know, but I like to talk!), and then without really thinking I ripped out a short phrase: “Joy I Never Expected”.
After sloppily pasting everything down, I waited my turn and listened to my small group describe their collages. They were filled with sports, celebrities, and other equally surface-level things. It was my turn – I started describing what was on my page and trying (and failing) to make a few jokes. Then I came across that phrase that I had hastily ripped out and without thinking looked at them and said, “The Christian life has brought me joy I never expected.”
In the months since that retreat, I have constantly found myself coming back to that phrase. What started as a quick attempt to describe myself has turned into a reminder of the promise that exists for all of us – a promise of a life of joy. The world is constantly trying to tell us what it thinks will make us happy – money, sex, success. But the reality is that what we are made for – and what we so often forget that we deserve – is a life of joy, a joy that comes alone from knowing Jesus Christ. This world that can so often try to suffocate us – it can try to fool us into being satisfied with the way things are or the monotony of the day to day. The beauty is that whether we realize it or not, the promise of the Gospel of John rings true for all of us – He has come that we may have abundant life.
So here I am – new city, new job, new relationships. Of course there is a fair share of fear and uncertainty, but the joy that comes from knowing and serving my God conquers all that and makes it worthwhile: joy in the excitement of a new state in life, joy in baking homemade bread (I know, I’m legit), and most importantly joy in the knowledge that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. There is abundant life to be found in this crazy thing we call the Christian life. And that is precisely why I’m here – to share the struggles, yes, but to focus on the joy.