Joy: The Smile That Aches {Advent}

You know that feeling when you’ve smiled so much your cheeks hurt?

I had it Monday. I sat for a long while writing notes to women with whom I have been studying the Word since October. We have shared each other’s ‘Aha’ moments, listened to each other’s growing pains, caught each other’s tears, and we have formed bonds of love and grace.

If I were forced to leave my home and could only pack one bag of belongings to take with me, I would find a way to squeeze every.single.one of these women into that treasured take-along.

I must have been halfway through my stack of cards when I got that familiar ache upon my face. I mused over the answer to why my dimples felt like they had run a marathon. Picked up another card. Examined the name labeled on the envelope.

My heart began to wander down the lanes of known and loved truths about this person.

Kindness demonstrated.

Faithfulness shown.

Treasured conversations.

Beautiful virtues.

It wandered into prayer.

Thankfulness.

Requests.

“Please bless her greatly, Lord!”

More thankfulness.

What a good God I have that He would place this gorgeous woman in my life.

And then I caught it…the smile.

The aching, my-teeth-feel-like-they’re-going-to-fall-out smile.

This is no ordinary smile.

It’s the kind that rises from a deep place in a secret chamber of a fortified castle.

It bounces out the secured door, carried on laughter. Cajoled by Joy.

Joy is like that. One might try to hide it in a tower, safely tucked from others. Yet, like a moth drawn to a flame, others are drawn to its presence and they stand at the bottom of that tower and shout “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!”  Joy dances best in the company of others.  Yes, Joy and Love are the most faithful of friends.

And that makes me think of Advent. “For behold when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy” Luke 1:45. The Has-Come-and-Is-Here-and-Is-Coming-Again King brings Joy to all the places he has already been and will someday be. In His presence—with one mention of His known and loved truths—our hearts kick with joyful delight.

And sometimes Advent–the waiting–feels too painful a place for Joy to echo, because it’s accompanied by the places where the new life has not yet been born. It’s there that Joy calls out to us, “Pick up the envelope that has the name ‘Jesus’ on it. Think about Him. Let your mind dwell on His beauty. Do it ‘til your heart starts to smiles and your cheeks won’t stop hurting.”

It’s what Mary did. In her waiting, she wandered back to what she knew about God.

His might,For the mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 1:49a).

His holiness,And holy is His name” (Luke 1:49b).

His merciful steadfastness,And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him” (Luke 1:50).

His power,He has done mighty deeds with His arm” (Luke 1:50a).

His righteous judgments,He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and he has exalted those who were humble” (Luke 1:50b-52).

His provision,He has filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53)

His help,He has given help to Israel his servant” (Luke 1:54a)

His promise-keeping ways,In remembrance of His mercy, as he spoke to our Fathers…” (Luke 1:54b-55a).

And Joy rose from the heart and fell upon her face and she smiled until it hurt. 

Today, as you wait for the yet to be born places of Christ’s coming kingdom, remember Him. Let the remembrances of His completed promises inform your hope for the future. Let Joy delight you with all God’s goodness, truth, and beauty and smile. Smile ‘til it hurts. Joy cometh. 

I’m linking today to Ann’s Walk With Him Wednesday. You should go there and visit. Her Advent post will make your heart feel all kinds of Christmas love. 

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