I remember encountering my first wicked and deceitful curve ball while batting in Little League baseball. I bailed out of the batter’s box, believing the pitch would hit me square in my nose. Immediately, the umpire yelled, “Strike 1.” I looked at him, befuddled. Let me tell you, that pitcher had some jazz, spice, and sauce for his age. My coach worked with me the following week on hitting curve balls at every practice. I improved, I think. Too many years ago to fully remember!
At times, curve balls come our back, don’t they? I recently had one thrown my way. I’ve learned that self-pity, wallowing, blaming others, plotting revenge, and taking our pain out on others are not God’s plan when tough times come our way. About the time this curve ball was lobbed my way, Susan was decorating the house for Christmas. She placed a beautiful, simple piece of art on our bedroom mantle, adorned with one word, “JOY.” I think she was suggesting something to me, eh? Now, Pastor Jose and the teaching team at Cypress Creek Church are speaking on JOY, and I’m recruited to write some devotionals on JOY. Mmm? God has a great sense of humor, doesn’t He?
We most likely don’t stay in the batter’s box resting in JOY when life is not so swell. Please reread Galatians 5:22, which appears at the beginning of this devotional. Notice the singular verb— “is.” The Apostle Paul teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE (“agape”) manifested in JOY, peace, patience, kindness, etc. Therefore, we can embrace and experience JOY because of God’s agape love. In other words, we can’t manufacture JOY with our positive mental vibes or manmade formulas because it is rooted in God’s love for us. In this scripture, JOY (“chara” in the original language) is a noun and can also mean “delight.”
So, today—stand firm in the batter’s box of life. Take it one pitch at a time. Homeruns don’t win ballgames; base hits do. Receive God’s love and walk in JOY.