Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Radiant faces

Our friend, Janice, said that before she became a Christian she knew who was and who wasn’t because the Christians had shiny faces!

Not to discount her experience, we both know now that shining faces don’t always mean someone is filled with the Spirit of the Lord. It can be good make-up, the effects of alcohol, the glisten of tears, or whatever, but a truly joyful Christian should have that joy obvious on their countenance.

David, in Psalm 34, describes the faith experience and shiny faces. He says, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

Sometimes I’ve tried to make my face shine. The author of my devotional book points out that is silly. If I want to read in the dark, I don’t work on the light bulb to get it glowing; I go to the source of power and flip the switch.

It is the same with joy. It isn’t produced by introspection, sweat, or any subjective effort, nor does it come when life is rosy and all things are in order (as if that ever happens). Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and it bubbles up from within when my focus is on its source, the Lord God, the Holy Spirit and my Savior, Jesus Christ. David said, “I sought the Lord . . . “ not, “I tried to be joyful.”

It is not difficult today to be joyful because of circumstances. There are dramatic changes in our household. Yet my joy is still in the Lord, because as this poor woman cries out to Him, and as others who care help in that cry, the Lord hears us. He delivers us from fearful things. He saves us from trouble; and He produces the shine.

In this wonderful sense of being rescued from fears and oppression, and in seeing our prayers answered, I know who is responsible. My joy is in Him.

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