Unexpected joy is the most pleasing kind of joy.
Spontaneous people might appreciate unexpected joy in Christ because the best kind of joy is seasoned with at least a dash of spontaneity. We can't see it coming, but that's what makes it great.
Joy is also similar to spontaneity because, the point at which a person tries too hard to be spontaneous is the point that this person has already failed to be spontaneous.
A romantic person might be more capable than most to grasp the unexpected quality of joy in Christ.
The highest quality romance is that which springs from pure, fiery admiration. It is the zealously pure disposition of an enamored heart that gives rise to a genuine appreciation for beauty.
A true romantic can never fully express the acute sense of delight he feels toward his object of love or admiration. He is like a cup with a built-in impulse to continually overflow. Indeed, this is the glory of the romantic man, that he delights in a depth of admiration to which no mortal expression can ever attain.
Romantic people have that particular quality, which most aptly appreciates the mysterious shroud of Divinity. Romantics are better equipped to understand the necessity of mystery when dealing with Divinity. They know that He is not less for being shrouded thus, but rather He is manifestly divine because of it.
And, as with spontaneity, a well-meaning individual might try really hard to orchestrate some romanticism, but this endeavor would be a failure from the start.
Sadly, most romantic people's minds never transcend superficialities or disguised perversion. The mainstream romantic is lost in pseudo-mystery that never transcends the muck and mire of this world. Most romantic people (who are considered romantic by the world) are utilized by Satan to bring so much attention to things invented by God that they cause themselves and others to forget about God. Worldly romanticisms focus passionately on the things that point toward Divinity and yet never follow these pointers all the way to the Divine Substance Himself. Godless romantics are so stupefied by sin that they might spend their entire lives concentrating on secondary causes and yet never come to grips with the First Cause, who is also the Final Cause.
Innocence can also appreciate the unexpected nature of Christ-centered joy. Innocence has the enviable ability to embrace Joy in whatever capacity He makes Himself available. For this reason God honors children, because they still have the simple wisdom to love Him as He is, no matter how much His nature remains illogical to the tainted, grown-up majority.
Therefore, when someone steals a person's childlike innocence, this is more than a loss of precious purity, it is shutting a uniquely open door to God's glorious, otherworldly mind. To squelch childlike purity is to discourage vital insight into the infinite possibilities of God in Christ.
Admittedly, there is a kind of joy for which premeditation even enhances its savor. There is that kind, which we simmer all day in our minds until the moment of fulfillment arrives, when we lift that ladle of smooth, steaming pleasure to our lips. The wisdom of this joy lies in its drawn-out-ness. It spreads a single drop of pleasure as far as possible. This is a good thing. Familiar joy is a good thing.
Expected joys can be just as real as unexpected ones but, even still, they are only expected to a limited extent. If we remember a taste too well, then that is a sure sign that we are about to get tired of it. But we adore certain flavors for their consistently hidden zest, which never fails to sneak up on our unsuspecting palates. Our most treasured joys surprise us again and again for their exceedingly pure quality.
And there are times when we try out something that is said to be pleasing, which ends up fulfilling its reputation. However, we have true cause for rejoicing when this new flavor or experience is even more compelling than any acclaimed expert could have put into words.
For this reason a joyfully wise man will be wary of excessive expectation. That is to say, he will not transgress the unassuming nature of joy by categorizing it to a fault, thereby battering the childlike innocence out of it.
A joyfully wise man is careful lest he should box up his sweet anticipation too airtight. He allows his pleasures room to breathe, or else risk suffocating them.
In the same way a little child, who doesn't know any better, might hide a butterfly in an airtight container for the next morning, when he expects to admire it again with the same awe and admiration as before. However, when the youngster wakes he will discover the sad news, that his colorful pet, so full of life only a day ago, is now lifeless. Though his loss is tragic, at least he will have learned that there are some things better left to flutter about freely, apart from his air-tight control. In this way most of us have learned by experience with little things what happens when we try to seal up living beauty too tight so it cannot breathe.
To pervert God's good gifts by trying to control them is the foundation of sin. Sin is seeking some good thing as an end in itself to the point of forgetting the One who is the Source of every good thing.
How can this ever happen? It must be the severest kind of delusion that causes people to accept the gift and forget the Giver.
But joy and every other heavenly gift serves mainly to point us back to the Author of these things. Creation in general is good only so far as it brings attention to the goodness of its creator. This is the ultimate purpose for all created things.
God initiates all good things and He is the End of all of them as well. This also means, if we desire any good thing, then we should take it up with Him first.
Our admiration of Christ should spill into and also out of an open, unrestricted quality of thinking. He does not guarantee a specific amount of joy or even a specific amount of life, but, in Christ, even these uncontrollable things are a mysterious delight. Every good thing points us toward the wonderful depth of mystery to be enjoyed from now until forever in Christ.
God's Spirit teaches men to appreciate the beauty of unconditional, Christ-centered trust. Men will be able to enjoy the splendor of God in Christ when they trust Him to be Himself, no strings attached. Whether He gives or takes away, the beauty of God in Christ is unwavering.
This is an excerpt from To the Church of the West, Scattered Throughout the World. Find this book and similar articles at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.
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