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Choose to be Joyful

I met Lynette in Belize on a mission trip. At the time I didn’t even know Belize had beaches and was a tourist destination. I went as part of a group serving at a boys home and teaching vacation Bible school in a nearby village. Lynette and her husband Mark lived on the campus and helped care for the boys who went to school there.

Lynette and Mark were from our area and when they finished their time as missionaries they returned and started a small business. By that time I was running the local chamber of commerce and Lynette jumped right in as one of my most reliable volunteers, ambassadors and board members.

Our ambassadors were supposed to take popcorn to business members and “pop in” on them to see how they were going. Lynette never missed an opportunity to pick up packages of popcorn and make her visits. She always had a smile and a laugh.

Life wasn’t always easy for Lynette. I don’t know her whole story, but I know she had more struggles than many of the people around her. But I’ll never forget the way she always smiled and laughed. She was truly joyful.

Early Sunday morning, Lynette met her Savior after a long battle with cancer. I hadn’t seen her in years but when I think of her I can see her smile covering her entire face and I can hear her laughter. Reading how people remember her I know she wasn’t just joyful around me, she was joyful continually, even in the difficult circumstances.

I’ll miss her joy. I’m reminded as I think of her and how many friends I’ve lost in the last few years, life is short. It’s too short not to be joyful. We’re going to have stress and problems, but can we find the joy? I’ve allowed some situations to steal my joy lately. I’ve been awake at night stewing over and worrying over situations. Today I’m deciding no more. If it doesn’t glorify God and I can’t find a way to be joyful in it, it needs to change.

Now I’m not talking moving away from situations where God purposefully placed you for His will. Those situations can be uncomfortable but if we’re where God wants us to be we should find peace and comfort in that. I’m talking about situations we’ve created that don’t bring us joy. Activities we do for no other reason than because we’re “supposed” to do it.

My friends, find the joy. Search for the lovely, pure and upright things and people of this world. Focus your eyes on God and allow Him to reveal the beauty of our world in the midst of horrid news reports and Facebook rants. If you can’t find joy, change your seat. Forgive the person. Repair the relationship. Have the hard conversation. Draw a boundary line. Allow people to live with their own consequences. Such hard words to think about in relationship to joy, but letting go of those heavy burdens that don’t belong to us leaves us more room for laughter and dancing.

Choose the joy today.

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