It’s almost impossible for the words and thoughts to come together when the well has run dry.
The statement comes from the preacher’s mouth, weariness in his eyes. It is a reality he knows in his heart. He does. He just buried his wife’s father. There is more—for him, an avalanche of trials. He knows.
I nod my head in agreement. I too, have felt it. The drought. Pain—and sorrow—and loss—all have drained the well dry.
No joy. No words. No voice.
And yet, I hear another voice in my mind tonight. Strangely, it is the voice of a cartoon character.
Linus, the blanket-hugging friend of Charlie Brown, has taken center stage and called for the lights. Simply and clearly, he quotes the Christmas story from Luke 2 (verses 8-14), and walks offstage to tell Charlie Brown that’s what Christmas is all about.
Good tidings of great joy. To all people.
I’m part of all people. My preacher friend is too. Probably, you are as well. Okay, not probably. You are.
All means all.
It’s the kind of thing you say when things are going well. The kind of thing one writes about when the heart is full.
And still, I promise that it is ever the truth, and I reiterate it even tonight.
In the middle of the darkest night, with the path in front barely lit to see the next step, I affirm that joy accompanies us in the dark.
Even when the well seems dry, the voice mute, joy endures.
The Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger was in for a rough ride. For years, there wouldn’t be much joy to be found, either for Him or for all people.
It didn’t make the proclamation of the angels a lie.
Oh, there were moments of triumph. He would teach the teachers; miracles would be performed, storms quieted. Crippled folks would walk and blind men see. There were brilliant moments of joy along the way to astounding darkness.
Funny. The only way to the great joy that would be to all people was through the worst thing that could happen.
For the great joy that was set before Him, he endured even the shame of the cursed crucifixion. (Hebrews 12:2)
We follow Him. It’s what we claim, isn’t it?
Great joy lies on that road—the road of following. Sadness, too. Perhaps even, a good bit of disappointment.
Mostly though, joy.
And, in the end—all joy.
Still, we follow.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
(John 7:38 ~ NIV)
Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand’ring far
Of shadows on the stars.
(Sure on this Shining Night ~ James Agee ~ American novelist/poet ~ 1909-1955)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.