Posted in Joy
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46
Some time ago, I led a retreat on the theme of “Pearls of Great Price.” We talked about finding the one thing that we desired most of all in our lives. It wasn’t difficult for me to name my pearl: Peace. I longed to live a life free of anxiety and fear. What I wanted most of all was to be in a state of calm most of the time. Now, how this goes is that once you name your pearl, you become more conscious of it when it is present and when it is not. In my case, when I’m at a traffic light and I’m late for work, I remember that I desire peace more than anything else, even more than being punctual. I take a deep breath and relax. (This is harder than you think!) It takes some getting used to, but the more conscious you are of your pearl, the more you work toward making this pearl your top priority. I can’t say that I ever mastered peace, but I am certainly conscious of my need for peace.
A curious thing has happened this Summer. The pearl has changed. One morning I was praying and I heard a new word from God: look for the Joy. So for two months, I have been looking around for ways to find joy, experience joy, and share joy with others. It’s a scavenger hunt for joy. I have to say that making this into a game of looking for joy has been fun, which creates joy in and of itself. I even have my Administrative Assistant looking for joy. One day she was house sitting and found the word “JOY” over a doorpost in the home. She texted me a picture and said, “I found JOY!” I had a good laugh.
And then I had an aha moment as I was reading my Bible one morning. This verse from I Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The key to joy is thanksgiving! How can we be thankful without also feeling joy in our hearts? This discovery has given me great joy. You don’t have to have everything perfect in your life to have joy. You don’t have to spend any money to have joy. You don’t have to travel to Europe or be sitting on a beach to have joy. All you have to do is be where you are and call to mind what you’re thankful for. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for one blessing or many blessings. Immediately your heart is filled with joy. You can do this once a day or as many times as you need some joy. It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?
I encourage you to find that which you need most of all at this time in your life. Peace, joy, hope, God’s presence, healing, etc. My prayer is that as you seek, so shall you find.
Prayer: Loving God, you have put this longing inside of each of us for something special, something to draw us back to You. As we search for our pearl of great price, may you show us how to find it, and in finding it, find you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Submitted by Rev. Dr. Carol J. Byrd