The Joy of Longing

Today as we were touching base in the Starbucks line (our unofficial “southern campus”), Jim told me with great enthusiasm that he’d just ended a yearlong “stoic standoff” with my two-year-old by finally getting the boy to laugh. It’s true: Donovan is not one to warm quickly and is less and less inclined the harder one tries to draw him out. Jim swears the apple has not fallen far from my tree in that regard.  Now I’m perhaps not as “stoic” as Jim often jokes I am (compared to a sanguine character like him, who isn’t a little melancholy!?), but he’s right that I’m not aptly described as a “jolly” fellow.  I prefer dark chocolate, stout beers, and Russian novels. Just the idea of being forced to stir myself into a happy frenzy makes me very, very tired. The more superficial marks of gladness notwithstanding, I do believe it’s possible to experience the joy of the Lord as a more reserved human being, and I suspect it has something to do with being able to engage the messiness of reality in a way that the Psalms model well.

So, this weekend we’ll wrap up Psalms! The Voice of the Heart with a look at Psalm 126 and that emotion known as gladness, or joy. If you’ve stuck with us through the summer, you’re no doubt as wrung out as Jim and I are and are perhaps glad that we’re moving on! Maybe you felt like I did the first time I came across Chip Dodd’s list of the eight feelings and thought, “Surely there’s more than just one positive emotion, right?” Hopefully, you’ve seen by now that in fact all our emotions are designed as bearers of good gifts, which we receive when we learn to listen to the voice of our hearts. Even those “negative” emotions are pointing our hearts prophetically to the “positive” blessings of a life in Christ. I’m excited (maybe even enough to smile!) about the opportunity we have to step back and look at the culmination of our work throughout this series by landing on gladness. Thank God for the help of the Psalms in sharing and shaping our hearts in the image of Christ! Prepare to be propelled into full-hearted hope for what our Father has in store for those of who trust him with the most vulnerable and raw places within.