Today right before the sermon, someone offered me a Life Saver. She handed me a brand new pack and told me I could open it. After about 3 minutes of trying to get the end off, she leans forward and told me it took her 10 minutes to open hers. She thought she was so cleaver by offering me a Life Saver in church and telling me that Jesus is my life saver but the problem was that if it took way too long to open and her point was lost.
There are somethings in life that are worth the trouble. Chocolate comes to mind. Good chocolate (not necessary expensive chocolate) is worth the trouble it might take to open. A good book is worth the trouble to wait for its release and finally open and read it. And of course (plug for my husband), there's nothing better on a really hot summer day than opening a glass bottle of ice cold Coke. Its worth the trouble.
Of course I've had all these things before and know their joy (to use Mark's word from this morning). But I'm sure the first time I tried these things it wasn't hard for me to "open" them. Someone I knew probably told me I'd like it and handed it to me and watched me enjoy it. They may have even helped me try these good things many times - kind of like a drug dealer getting someone hooked on a fix.
As I sat in church trying with too much effort to open my Life Savers, I thought that if this were a real life saver - I'd be dead by now and I hoped that for those people who come to visit our church they don't find the love of God so hard to open. I hope that someone they know tells them of their joy and makes it easy for them to experience that joy too.
We often wonder why people don't show up at our church to experience the same joy that we do but we also forget that not everyone has had those experiences. Some people have had very odd, strange, or painful experiences in the church and just as all books aren't worth the wait for, I believe that not all churches are worth the wait either. So if you've never experienced one that can bring you joy why would you bother trying again?
I hope that you can put God on your Top Five Joys list but more importantly I hope that you are able to find a place where you can experience that joy and live the life God calls you to. For me, I've found that at Lighthouse. Keep searching if you haven't found it - its worth the trouble.
Until Everyone Hears,