Joy is an interesting word. It’s not really an everyday, man-on-the-street word. You don’t hear people using “joy” in normal conversations. “It brings me such joy that I have tomorrow off.” “Hope you have a joyful birthday.” “Yes, I’d like Big Mac, Fries and one Joyful Meal please.”
That’s because happiness and joy aren’t the same thing. Happiness is a mood. Joy is a mode. Happiness is external, based on what happens around you. Joy is internal, based on what’s happened inside you. That concept is hard to grasp if you haven’t experienced it.
Recently, we lost a giant of the Christian faith. George Beverly Shea, who sang at Billy Graham Crusades for more than 70 years, passed away last week at the age of 104. Bev Shea was respected around the world, not just in Christian circles, so much so that he was honored with the top awards you can achieve in the music industry. He even received Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was 102 at the time, making him the oldest living person to achieve such an honor.
And, as hundreds gathered for his public memorial service, it wasn’t these achievements and awards on the lips of those offering remarks. It was Bev’s joy that was most talked about. It was his zest for life, his love of people, and his outward expression of his inward joy that were the subject of each remembrance. And, the joy he had in his heart is a joy that can only come walking closely with Jesus. (Galations 5:22)
Joy permeated Bev’s life and his home. His son, Ron, confirmed it in his remarks during the funeral. Bev had modeled the behavior at home with his family. He lived a joyful life – the kind of life that the children see, admire and want to emulate.
What a concept! If we have this kind of joy and it saturates our lives, our kids will naturally want it for themselves. It really challenged me to be deliberate about what my family sees in me – do they see my mood or do they see my mode? Do they see mere happiness (or in some cases unhappiness) or do they see true joy? I’m afraid too often it’s the former when it needs to be the latter.