The Quest to Everlasting Joy

Joy

There are two photos pinned to the wall just above my desk. One of them depicts a young man standing at a pulpit, his mouth split with a wide smile as he animates his discussion with open hands. His eyes seem fixed on a single spot in the crowd before him, perhaps seeing something visible only to himself. Four months ago, as I stood in front of that pulpit to deliver an impromptu speech, a camera captured the emotion most important to me over the past few months: joy.

My unexpected speech took place during a soccer award ceremony. My team, the Cross Lanes Christian Schools Warriors (high school soccer) was fully assembled in the CLCS gymnasium, joined by the middle school boys and high school girls teams.

After several of the proceedings had passed, the seniors were asked to stay and speak a few words. Being a senior, I, of course, remained in the front with the rest, well aware that the two captains had prepared eloquent speeches for the occasion. Imagine my surprise when one of my friends leaned over and whispered, “You know you’re supposed to share a few memories and speak a little, right?”

My heart dropped. I had not received this information, leaving me completely unprepared to do a task I would have previously had several days to complete. I was left with a single option: come up with a small speech on the spot.

By God’s grace, I was able to compose a nice speech discussing my coach’s dedication to his job, and, to my astonishment, the more I spoke, the happier I became. Despite the fact that I had never before spoken in front of a large audience and had never taken a speech class, I was enjoying public speaking. Despite all odds, I found joy in something completely unexpected.

Fun little story aside, joy has become a real issue of late. I have allowed far too many things to affect my joy. Family, friends, politics, the NFL, and schoolwork have all become real joykillers. Extending further into the real world, money, life, health, and relationships are all extremely common pieces of our joy or lack thereof. Let’s be honest here- how many people can you name that exude true, Godly joy? I could probably count these people on two hands.

Over the past weeks, God has used a very influential lady in my life to teach me His joy. Through her personal testimony and writings, I have been consistently reminded of three facts:

1: Joy is held in the heart, not the head. Outside of Christ, when our heart is heavy, our joy is lacking. Therefore, when we open our heart to Christ and allow Him to lift us out of the mire and muck of the world, our joy is completed and our hearts encouraged.

2: Real joy comes from Christ. While the world abounds with trinkets and gadgets clamoring for our time and claiming themselves as a source of happiness, lasting joy is found within Christ and no other.

3: Our joy begins and is completed in Christ. Because He is the only source of legitimate joy, He must be the beginning (and therefore, the end) to all joy.

I have also been reminded of the joy brought from the simple things. Prayer, time in the Bible, and enjoyment of God’s creation all ultimately stem from God, keeping to the three previous points. In allowing Christ into our hearts, we open the door to true joy, putting us on the path to receiving this joy through the simpler things God puts into our life.

On the melancholy days, take time and enjoy God’s creation.

On the difficult days, talk to God.

On the good days, sing praises of thanks and hymns of gratitude.

Do not allow anything to affect your joy. For example, look at Paul. As Acts 16:25 says, after being put in jail for spreading the Gospel, Paul and Silas were found “praying and singing hymns to God”. These men were singing in jail?

Imagine if something like this happened in modern day times. All of a sudden, without warning, three beefy men covered in tattoos and piercings, convicted for first-degree murder, begin loudly singing “Joy to the World” in their cells, much to the disbelief of their stunned guards. What do you think would happen?

What can we learn from this amusing image? Sing songs in jail? By no means! Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

In Christ’s presence, there is fullness (completeness) of joy. In difficult times, our joy is renewed through Christ because He went through the most difficult time that our pain and suffering would bring growth because of the forgiveness of sin. In the peaceful times, our joy is found through Christ’s simple gifts.

What’s affecting your joy? Is your happiness found in Christ, or in the world?

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22 thoughts on “The Quest to Everlasting Joy

  1. To my readers: yes, it’s been a while since I’ve published. I’ve gone through another deeply difficult time, one only recently ended through Christ’s direct intervention. A few of you were compassionate enough to email me during this time, asking if there were ways you could pray, and I was only to eager to oblige. To those people: Thank you. Your prayers were appreciated (and heard). God’s working on this stony heart! Never give up in Him, guys. The reward is too great. Let’s run this race together!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Matthew Black

    This is an incredible article written by Elisha McFarland​, a missionary kid who grew up in Uganda, who I like to call “retired” since he’s now headed for college after his last semester in high school. The wisdom in this article is actual the secret to complete happiness 100% of the time. Go ahead and read it. I might radically change your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karl Bickerstaff

    I’ve found that I have a personal tendency to start obsessing over some small thing (not necessarily a depressing or bad thing of itself), and then it dominates my thinking in my free time for a while, until I suddenly realize how fleeting and insignificant it is compared to what really matters. Thanks for writing this, Elisha, it’s a good reminder for people like me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dude… I need to reread this. But from my skimming it looks really good. Amen Elisha! Christ is all our fount of joy. Keep encouraging others through the encouragement you’ve received. Funny that Jesus said the stuff He did and then told His disciples it was so His joy could be in them and their joy would be complete (John 15). Anyways. Really good man!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. makaylajesalyn

    I’m so sorry it’s been a tough few months. It’s mature, though, to acknowledge imperfection and aspire to grow in joy. I too am trying to soften my heart towards His leading … thank you for this post! It reminded me to hold on to hope … and that prayer is so important… a lesson I’ve been learning for a while!! 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amen, amen!!! This is a MUCH needed post, in our current world (and anytime, really…can’t ever get enough joy, in my opinion. 🙂 ). Too many people either have this “artificial” kind of joy that is just on the outside (which I can ABSOLUTELY blame myself for doing…acting like everything is happy and fine, when it’s really not) or they’re just depressed…and finding the balance and leaning on God and choosing joy through Him, is SO important in our daily lives….
    I really have been praying for you and I’m so sorry for what you’ve been going through… I know that God puts us through hard times FOR a reason, and you can take comfort in that!! Take comfort in knowing that He IS there for you, even in your darkest, hardest times…I’m praying for you (let me know if there’s anything else you need and I’d be happy to oblige) and you can do this!!! Stay strong, fight the good fight and never, ever give up hope. God is with you, every step of the way. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Such a good reminder, Elisha! I too have been pondering this subject of joy and how so few people seem to have it, even Christians. Why is that? Why does true, everlasting joy seem so elusive? I believe part of the reason is because there is only one source (Christ)and many refuse to go to that one source and instead turn to temporary things to make them happy. It doesn’t work and they are frustrated, depressed and tired. It is such an amazing gift, this joy. And I’m so grateful that God has seen fit to give it to me! And all those who truly seek Him. Keep seeking Him, Elisha!

    I don’t know what exactly you are going through and you know that I am not one of the compassionate prayer warriors that have been interceding on your behalf, but I will start praying today! Feel free to contact me with specific requests!

    Keep livin’ for Jesus,
    Grace

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Katelyn

    I’m so glad to see you writing again! It’s been greatly missed.
    The pursuit of true joy is so often lost in the midst of personal struggles, or buried under the stress or worries of this world. And often, finding it again can be really difficult and even painful. I’ve been there. But it’s such a good reminder I think that the centre of everything we do should be the Lord.. that everything begins and ends with Him. The reason James is able to say “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials and temptations” is because joy isn’t based in the circumstances, or in ourselves, or in others. Joy is based in the unchanging nature of God, and when we rest in Him it can never be fully taken away. Also, thank you for the reminder to be a person who does consistently exude true, godly joy, and to make the choice to be so even when it seems wrong, or I don’t want to… to be a light and joy in others’ lives that imitates my heavenly Father.
    Continuing to pray for you! I know that the Lord is working in you in incredible ways, and He has great plans for you.

    *Also, your story is proof that rhetoric is useful in everyday life hehe*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw I’m glad at least one person missed it *glances at Noah*
      Wise words from a wiser lady! I’m glad I was able to remind you of even a small lesson 🙂
      Thank you for the prayer! Always appreciate that from you, m’lady.
      Also no smh we’re not having this argument again

      Like

      1. Katelyn

        Hahaha, more than you know. 😛 Smh Noah.
        Awww, well thank you. But any wisdom I have is not mine; tis from the Lord. 🙂 Indeed you have, and I am very grateful!
        Always 🙂

        Yes smh, how can you possibly deny the value of rhetoric when you have used it yourself? Tis a useful asset in many situations, and an endeavour which I’d say my time is well spent in.

        Liked by 1 person

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