Today’s text: Psalm 109 – 110, Psalm 138, John 16
A few weeks back I had the blessing of going to the zoo with two of my grandchildren, Jonathan (Jon age 3) and Elizabeth (Lizzy age 1). We got an early start and the first moment that Jon saw his grandma and me he came running to exchange hugs and kisses. Lizzy tolerated being kissed by an old fat papa. The first animals that we saw were the big cats as they were walking around finishing their breakfast and enjoying the cool of the morning. Jon was so excited! He jumped up and down clapping his hands as he spun around with joy. Lizzy was somewhat disappointed in that she did not get to pet the kitties. Jon was even more excited when he saw the penguins. They were so close and he watched them in absolute amazement from above and below the water. Lizzy was somewhat tolerant of the smell. As it got close to lunch time Jon asked if we could catch and cook one of the giant turtles. He was certain that they would taste like his favorite, fried chicken. Fortunately the next place that we found had chicken strips on the menu so it was a good day for grandpas and turtles alike.
In today’s text (Matthew 16) Jesus prepares his disciples for what lays ahead. He announces the future coming of the Holy Spirit or as the King James puts it the Comforter. He also tells them their grief will turn to joy. He then closes the conversation by assuring them that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” How can grief turn to joy? How can men take hope when they are fully mindful of the difficult days that lay ahead? The answer is that joy is a fruit. Unlike happiness which is determined by our circumstances or external events, joy is produced directly from the spirit of the living God. Fruit does not appear instantaneously. It develops and matures in God’s perfect time. Tending grape vines is time consuming, hard work that requires diligence and patience. But in due time the vine produces its fruit. The quantity and quality of the fruit speaks volumes as to how the vine was nurtured.
My grandson, Jon was mature enough to realize the day at the zoo was a special day. It was a day for bonding, for deepening relationships and for enjoying fruit. Lizzy was simply too young to appreciate the events of the day. I am certain that on future trips she will fully understand just how special a day at the zoo can be.
Joy is nurtured in us as we spend time maturing in the word and developing our relationship with our Savior. Most days provide us with opportunities to tend the vine and nurture the fruit of joy. Guard yourself from those events that would crash into our lives. Be vigilant and remember, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)