Does this spark joy?
There’s a popular fad and phrase making the rounds this January. It’s connected with the famous organizer Marie Kondo, and her new television series. In order to help people de-clutter their lives, Ms. Kondo instructs them to pick up every item in their house and answer the question, “Does this spark joy for you?” If no, it has to go.
This got me thinking about other areas of life where we’re inclined to accumulate clutter and lose the script. In particular, the spiritual practices that shape our interior lives. Things like worship, fasting, prayer, tithing, and even Scripture reading. What if we asked of each of these areas (and others like them), “Does this spark joy?”
If I’m honest, sometimes the answer is, “Nope.” Sometimes these practices spark other things. Things like regret, remorse, repentance, and even lament. Other times they spark questions, or doubts, or speeches I want to give to somebody who has offended me.
But before you’re tempted to let these things go because they don’t spark joy, allow me to point out something. These practices are intended to create within us the kind of person who DOES experience joy, the kind of joy that Jesus promised.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
Jesus is promising his joy. A deep, infinite, bigger-than-my-circumstances kind of joy. So what did he tell them so they could experience that joy? Well if we look back just before this verse, here’s what he says:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:9-10)
Remain in his love…which happens when we “keep his commands.” And not to get too complicated, but the command he stresses is “love one another.”
So here’s the key: To be the kind of people who can consistently live this way, who can consistently “love one another,” who can have Jesus’ joy inside us, we need to embrace the practices and habits that Jesus did. Things like worship, fasting, prayer, tithing, Scripture reading, etc. These practices, which may IN THE MOMENT not spark joy will transform you and me over time into the kind of people who are more and more like Jesus, and more and more living in his joy.
The question for today is this: Are you engaging in the kinds of spiritual practices and habits that will ultimately make you a joyful person? It seems to me like that’s the kind of joy that we really want to spark. Let’s lay the groundwork for lives that are a fountain of joy, with sparks flying all over the place!