Back when I had to take all five of my kids shopping? I’m not going to lie. Some of those trips were…challenging. Not only did I have to try to check off all the items on my list, but I had to try to keep any and all other merchandise undamaged and in its original spot. Sometimes when you’re trying to keep five kids together in a grocery store, it feels like trying to coral baby hummingbirds. Plus I had to leave the store with the same number of hummingbirds I came in with. Preferably all the exact same ones I came in with.
Shopping excursions. They were not short on suspense, intrigue, drama—humming. I wonder if any of them would’ve made a good movie. I did consider hiring a cellist at one point to follow us around playing ominous music.
When the five littles were all so young, it felt like a win anytime we made it to the checkout with no one bawling. Joy! As in, change that cello tune to a lively, skippy piece of Bach’s, thank you very much.
There were a few times when I did the “we’re still happy and it’s checkout time” dance, only to get behind that person who seemed compelled to hunt for one specific coupon for 18 minutes. While I corralled hummingbirds. Increase drama. Increase cello volume, slow the tempo.
The cello. What a versatile instrument. And mysterious. Doesn’t it seem to communicate gloom or ecstasy and everything in between at the turn of a music page and a tug on a bow?
Keeping up the skippy beat of joy in our faith walk can seem mysterious too. In Philippians 4:4, Paul commands, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” And if that’s not clear enough, he repeats that refrain: “I will say it again: Rejoice!” (CSB). It’s like he’s saying, “never don’t rejoice.” The book of Philippians addresses some anything-but-skippy thoughts. Paul talks about the possibility of being put to death for his faith even. And yet, there it is: rejoice. Always.
How can we always rejoice? Sometimes life is hard and sometimes we feel deep sadness.
Rejoice is a verb. To rejoice is to set joy into motion. There’s a power behind it. And the power doesn’t really kick in until we realize it’s not ours. Paul gives us the forward motion in the Philippians 4:4 command. He does it in just three words: “in the Lord.” Too often we get hung up on the “always” and forget that it’s only found “in the Lord.” Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, and the Holy Spirit of God is not indwelling you part-time. He indwells you always. So He enables your joy always.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25, CSB). Yes, let’s move forward in joy in the power of the One who fills our hearts with singing, no matter what’s going on around us.
Tap your toe. “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Measure by measure, note by note, and voila! You can find yourself singing that joyful tune.
By the way, that’s “voila” not “viola.” Because here? No strings attached.