Jesus Joy

Joy cannot be contained.

It starts in the eyes and spreads across hopeful faces. Soon, the row is ignited and then suddenly an entire auditorium is full of luster and smiles and excitement.

There is no better place to see the contagious nature of joy than at VBS Parent’s Night. All week, children have been soaked with Jesus’s love, forgiveness, kindness and compassion. They have had a front row seat to experiencing the Savior. Capping off the journey, their parents are invited to a special program where the children share what they’ve learned through skits and song.

Joy shines bright, as voices sing loudly with over-the-top hand motions.

Jackson (in the orange) sings from his heart.

Jackson (in the orange) sings from his heart.

My son Jackson oozes Jesus joy after weeks like this. He loves praising God through song, and the joy jumps right off of him onto everyone watching. When I see the purity in his worship as he uses every ounce of his energy to pour out his love to God, I can’t help but praise Jesus, too.

Vacation Bible School offers so many of these children freedom: freedom from boredom, broken homes, arguments, missed meals, apathy, overlooked needs, or just not feeling special or important. They are greeted by those who generously love them, teach them, feed them, play games with them, make them laugh, sing crazy songs with them, encourage them, and most importantly through it all, introduce them to the One who can give them freedom from sin.

When a heart is full of Jesus, it overflows with joy. It changes lives.

Lauren (in the middle) sings through her smiles.

Lauren (in the middle) sings through her smiles.

I saw no faces of anger or sadness during the program. Parents beamed with pride as they watched their children sing and speak truth. They heard the gospel through precious voices, and clapped loudly as memory verses were recited and songs exuberantly sung. Most of us were humbled by the joy in our children, and touched by the message they learned and wanted to share with us.

In the end, their joy helped us see Jesus.

(I want to especially thank those amazing VBS workers who poured into my children during VBS, including Matthew, Whitney, Elaine, Peyton, Joy and Cheryl. And, I want to give a shout out to my amazing co-teacher for the week Midge, who was truly the hands and feet of Jesus to those students in our care. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!)

T-E-L-L, I’m gonna tell

Jackson (in the center with a white shirt) sings at VBS family night.

In front of a packed house Thursday evening, my little boy got up with his friends and sang his heart out for Jesus.

My joy may have matched his while I watched Jackson’s face beam as he sang and did all the motions to the songs. Lauren squealed and pointed out her brother. She was proud, too!

Jackson has been a natural performer since birth, and loves to sing and act out stories. But, he has also struggled with stage fright. There have been many times when he just lost it as he looked out into an audience or would refuse to get on stage altogether.

However, this night, he walked up confidently and smiled wide. He praised Jesus with all his might! The enthusiasm of the children was contagious as they shouted for their Savior:

T-E-L-L, I’m gonna tell!
Y-E-L-L, I’m gonna yell!

Everybody needs to know
Jesus loves them so

There is nothing that pleases me more than when I see my children connecting with God. My heart overflows when they grow in their understanding of His love and express their love back to Jesus.

God feels the same about you and me.

There is nothing God wants more than for us to be close with Him. He deeply desires for us to grow in His love and enjoy His gift of grace. He longs for us to talk with Him, to ask Him the hard questions, to share His words with others. He is the proud parent watching His children get on stage and sing.

When Jesus obeyed His Father and was baptized, God was so proud He could not keep silent. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove, and God spoke audibly to the crowd and to Jesus, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased!” This was the first time Jesus demonstrated to the people around Him how He would rescue them from the chains of sin and make a way for us to have a restored relationship with the Father, through His death, burial and resurrection. And, because of His obedience to God’s redemptive plan for mankind and submitting and pledging His very life for you and me, God loudly spoke His pleasure over His Son.

Today, I want to please my Savior. I submit my life to His plan, no matter where that leads. I want to hear Him say He is pleased with me. If that’s your prayer, too, I know we have work to do as we filter our lives through His forgiveness and faithfulness.

When we shift off-key and our voices falter, I will remember that God’s love never wains for His children. He loves us, not because of what we do or don’t do, but because we are His children.

And as I accept His love and He shapes my heart and life, I want to make Him proud.