It’s hard to count joy when you are too busy to think and can’t finish one activity before you are heading to the next. This week has certainly slowed life down just a bit, and for me, a person who tends to prefer activity and engagement and who is like many people, feeling concern about the challenges for my business and the economy, it is easy to get focused on the negative. Friday morning, the Holy Spirit brought James to mind, “Count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds.” I wondered how hard that might become. It may become very hard, but this weekend, I found it almost impossible to miss tHis joy. Today, like most of the folks I know, I am home rather than at the normal Sunday church service and activities, and counting all the joy in tHis moment.
I began to count joy tHis Friday, when a friend suggested we get together before her work as a nurse made that impossible. We decided to avoid the crowd of a restaurant and get takeout. We had a good meal at our house where we had no wait and could really hear each other without the struggle of talking over loud music. Then we spent a couple of hours playing cards–and laughing a lot. What would have been, at best, a 90-minute meal at a restaurant became several hours of relaxed fun.
Yesterday, we were at home–all day–which doesn’t happen often and even when it does, we usually feel pressured to get a lot accomplished. In contrast, yesterday seemed much more relaxed because the one event we had felt some obligation to attend had been canceled and a conference that would have taken us out of town next weekend has been canceled. I would not have said the conference was creating pressure; in fact, we were looking forward to going a couple of days early to enjoy time in Dallas. However, Mike and I both realized that we didn’t feel the “need to get everything done this weekend because we will be out of town next weekend” pressure. It made me wonder how much pressure we sometimes create in the effort to relax. I even found time to walk next door and check on a neighbor–something I am ashamed to admit, I have rarely done. She has already returned my weak effort as a neighbor with a baked-from-scratch rum cake. Counting joy. Tasting joy.
Then tHis morning, Mike and I joined our family at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ via live stream. We love the people there and have missed them terribly since we moved in 2004. We have found good friends and church family here in Alexandria, but what a blessing it was to hear Al Robertson and Mike Kellett and see people who still mean so much to us. Mike had just started preaching at WFR when we moved away and we knew we were going to be missing out by not being able to get to know him better. Al holds such a special place in our hearts. We have sorely missed spending time with him and Lisa and have missed his powerful preaching. Because we had not anticipated the canceling of our congregational service here in Alexandria, when Al and Mike said they were going to begin with communion, we paused the live stream and broke out some crackers and very fresh wine (literally just 12 grapes fresh out of the fridge pressed by hand) so that we could take communion. Just Mike and I shared a moment that ties us to Christians around the world and across two millennia and reminds us of our Savior’s death and resurrection. Counting joy.
We expect, we will be here all day today, with no career demands, no congregational obligations, no organized activity. I don’t know what next week holds; we never do. But this feels a bit like a coronavirus-induced sabbath rest. Count tHis joy.