283758_10150938692361432_1765126621_n

Photo by Ali Kendrick

I gazed out the tinted grey window of the blue city bus that carried us through the hills of Ireland, the sunlight glowed beyond a canopy of clouds lighting up my first view of the sparkling emerald see. I nearly cried I was so filled with joy. It was supernaturally shiny, that moment. I could feel the Holy Spirit doing work that went far beyond the simple happiness a beautiful view produces.

The whole month, (month 1 of 11 on a 3 continent mission trip), was weird. I lived with my brand new family, a team of 7 strangers from all over the United States and 2 other freshly formed teams from our squad of 56, in the house of one Jim Moriarty.

That’s right, I was in Ireland living with Jim Moriarty, (that’s a Sherlock Holmes reference for all you sad people who aren’t acquainted with this classic).

Jim loved Jesus and as far as I could tell, was not the leader of a global crime syndicate…

We experienced physical, spiritual, and emotional trials that both challenged and bonded us as we began the first leg of our race (the World Race). Many of my teammates were dismayed to come face to face with wounds from their own past, but we worked through it together. It was the kind of month would continue to tell stories about as years passed. We laughed as much as we could so we didn’t cry, and sometimes we did cry.

Not for a single moment did that joy the Holy Spirit poured into my soul on the bus leave me. It was my rest, hope, and perseverance in everything I faced that extraordinary July.

Joy is so much more than a happy feeling.

Joy is thankful.

Joy is comfort.

Joy is strong.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1

Let’s say you wake up one morning with purple spots on your skin, dolphin ears (that was a joke, dolphins don’t have ears silly!), webbed feet, and you’re sneezing at 10 second intervals. What’s wrong with you?

There is obviously a strange illness at the root of your symptoms, we know that because of what we witness even when we don’t yet know the cause itself.

This like is our relationship with God.

When we know Him personally as His redeemed children, he works inside our hearts to change us from the inside out. Joy is a symptom, and it’s connected to the other work God does inside our souls.

Unlike an illness, when the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside us He continually produces new good work inside of us, manifesting in all sorts of ways, each work good spurring on more and more.

Joy is a fruit of the spirit that encourages other fruit to grow inside you and even those around you. Sometimes thankfulness, (you are grateful when you’re joyful are you not?), sometimes comfort (like the soothing smile of a friend when you are sad), and sometimes strength (because it changes the attitude with which you face your trials).

God gave me that gift of joy because he knew that I would need it, and so would my World Race family. They were each blessed by my joy in some way, and I was able to live it out because they understood the value of joy.

In Ireland, I did feel joy, but the work in my life and relationship with God that came with it lasted far longer than the feeling.

Encourage one another as long as it is today, and remember that joy is more than a feeling. Joy is a gift for you and others, a weapon against the trials we face, and a result of knowing the God who has already claimed victory for us through Christ Jesus.

That, is joy.   =)

292494_10150924877296432_424201980_n

(Ali, Alyssa, Emily & I in Ireland)

The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10