“Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." (John 15:4, NIV) These words from Pete Grieg have stuck with me throughout this season of lockdown, disruption, and loss of control: "Suffering is inevitable in life, but joy is not. So relentlessly pursue joy today. Laugh often and listen well. Celebrate the wonder of the smallest, most ordinary things. Tragedy comes to us regardless. But joy is a butterfly, an elusive melody waiting to be named. Our surprising, unsolemn duty, therefore, is not just to weep at life's pain but to seek and savour its bounty with fierce delight. To marvel at the simple magnificence of the mundane; the ephemeral light through a dirty window, that eternal moment between the first and second mouthfuls of banoffee pie. Light a fire tonight. Make the coffee strong. Stretch your limbs. Write someone a letter with a real, actual pen. Play 'Love Supreme' by John Coltrane. And should you happen to see a tree bedecked in lights, or an ornate tattoo, or the iridescent flash of pink on a pigeon's head, stop and stare in wide-eyed wonder like a child." This season has been difficult for me – as a person who’s top love language is physical touch, an extrovert, and lover of city life, all of my strengths have been stripped away. As a person who cares deeply for others, the people I love and my closest friends are in pain – my heart has been broken a thousand times over in the last four months and God has not stopped asking me to relentless pursue joy. And yet God has not called me to lay aside my pain but to relentless pursue joy, to hold both joy and sorrow in my hands to glorify God and deeply abide with Jesus as the Man of Sorrows anointed with the oil of Gladness. So Jesus has met me with joy in this season through that exact record that Pete Grieg mentions – A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, my favourite jazz record and a hymn of praise to God unlike anything else I know. The liner notes of the album include poetry of praise to God and deep reminders for me to praise God in each and every season for all God embodies, for all the beauty that envelops the earth through jazz, poetry, glasses of wine, the comforting voice of a friend, and orange glow of the setting sun.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. In Spirit and Truth, Leslie Hall
"Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’" – (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)
How could God be inviting you to relentlessly pursue joy?
How can the things that bring you joy strengthen you and draw you deeper into relationship with God?
How can your joys be shared with others in order to help invite others to cultivate joy in their life during seasons of hardship?