Joy unending Joy!
Remember the story Jesus told of the prodigal son? The younger son demanded his inheritance right away from his father. The father divided the property between his two sons and the younger one left and squandered his fortune on undisciplined, shameful living, wasting everything he had to a point where he was working slopping pigs. He came to his senses figuring out that he had sinned against God and his father. He returned home to ask for a job as one of his father’s hired hands. His father was so ecstatic to see him that he ordered his servants to prepare a feast to celebrate.
“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’
“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’” Luke 15:11-32 The Message*
The Bible doesn’t take the story any further. It is unknown if the brother decided to stay in his sulk or to see things through his father’s joy. Wouldn’t it be amazing to read these words from the brother to the father:
“You are so right dad, I was just thinking about myself and how I deserved a party. I focused on being hurt because you didn’t do something for me but you do stuff for me all the time! I spoke without thinking stirring up discord when there was no reason for it. In fact, I am so thankful my brother is home! What a joy it will be to share life with him again not to mention I will enjoy having him help us! What a family reunion this is!! I am so glad he is ok and that you are so blessed to have him return. I know you were grieving thinking he was gone forever! What a celebration this is. I thought my brother was lost forever but now he is home safe with us!”
If that epilogue was included at the end of the story, we would be certain the brother would have remembered that God works out all things for our good and that we should rejoice in the day we are in! He would have enjoyed a party! He would have given his brother the opportunity to repent and be reinstated into the family through mercy, grace and love.
Instead, it is very possible the end of the story for the brother was a of miserable self-pitying night alone, not to mention the fallout the next day!
How many times have we chosen this path? The path of grumble and complain – the path of comparing and criticizing?
We have a choice. The end of our story is not yet here and His mercy is new every morning! Choose God. Choose to pass on joy instead of discord!! Choose to love instead of hate!!!
The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:34 NIV
A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. Proverbs 17:22 MSG*
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV