The Challenge of Joy
I'm feeling a bit guilty right now. Life is too good. A great church is willing to let me be their pastor and many actually show up on Sunday to worship God and stay awake during my sermons. I get paid a decent salary so there is always food in the refrigerator and money enough for a Starbucks or magazine. I have a great wife who likes to do what I like to do and eat what I like to eat. We cannot wait to head off to France to adventure together. I have three healthy adult children who delight me with their differences. Today I had an outdoor lunch with a church attender and then bumped into several people on the street I know. With my sermon done I headed to the ocean for about an hour for a long and leisurely swim and then baking in the sun with Time magazine. Life is seriously sweet right now.
The challenge is that I know too much about other people's pain, like my dad confined to a bed with a feeding tube and other tubes. Life is tough for him right now, fighting pneumonia and infections and just the energy to walk. I have a friend facing the collapse of a career and another with a dissolving marriage. A friend in town just got fired from a job he thought he was doing well at and another pastor was fired by the elders. I'm heading to jail tonight for a service with guys whose future is less-than-certain and bleak at best. From jail it's off to a retirement party for a faculty member we know at a very affluent home. It's all kind of weird.
My joy cannot become arrogant or insensitive. I dare not be flippant or cocky with those who enter my arena. This joy is more subdued, that I get to fly off to France for a paid vacation while others face unemployment. This is not my entitlement, but it is certainly sweet.