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Contagious Joy

Read: 2 Kings 5:1-6; Matthew 5:14-16

At the age of 47, Carl Allamby is experiencing a change of career. From the age of 16, he had worked as an auto mechanic. According to his satisfied customers, Allamby could figure out and fix any car problem. He was personable and extremely hard working. Nevertheless, now his focus has changed from vehicles to people, and now Carl Allamby is a resident at Akron Cleveland Clinic General Hospital. What circumstances brought about such a life change?

In 2006, Allamby decided he needed to take business classes and get his degree. Good business sense to go along with the expertise he had. However, there was that one class he kept putting off. Why did he have to take biology when it had nothing to do with his desired degree? Nevertheless, his counselor assured him that it was necessary; so, reluctantly, he signed up for the class. That was when the change occurred in Carl Allamby's thinking because resident Micah Watts was the one teaching that class. Watts came in, and he looked tired, having come to teach the class right after having just finished a shift at the Cleveland Clinic. Yet, when he began to speak, even though it was a very basic class, Watts' face lit up with joy. That excitement and joy triggered something long forgotten in Carl Allamby's life. When he was very young, he had wondered about being a doctor, and that day, that desire was rekindled. He went home and told his wife he wanted to get into medicine in some capacity, and he did just that. Who could have known that the lit-up face of a tired resident would be the impetus that changed not only Allamby's life but perhaps, many others as well.

Each of us has triggers. People or circumstances that make us light up with joy. A few of mine from this past week have been:

1. The rosebushes, some of which have been awash with blooms. Even the leaves seem to be extra lush this year.

2. The story from last evening's news that spoke of a very special wedding registry. The bride, a teacher, knew how many of her students lacked even basic necessities. Therefore, the couple requested school supplies for the kids, rather than traditional wedding gifts for themselves.

Everyone's list would look different, but let's think for a moment about what God has done, or what He is doing and what He will do in the future. If we merely scratch the surface in any of these areas, won't we light up with joy as we ponder the truth? When we talk with people, both those who belong to Jesus and those who have not yet come to know Him, will someone see the way our faces light up, and might our unpretentious joy be the impetus God uses to change a life? Let's look at one example from Israel's history.

In 2 Kings 5:1-6, we meet her. Right up front, I need to say that the scriptures do not directly say that this unnamed girl's face lit up when she talked with the woman whom she served. However, several things are obvious. First, this young girl knew that there was a need in the household where she had been taken. Her mistress' husband, a noteworthy commander, had leprosy. Second, this young girl believed there was help for Naaman, and that help would come from God. Third, she cared enough to tell Naaman's wife what she knew and how God's help could be received. Her words showed that she desired good for the commander. Can't you see her eyes shining with joy as she held out the Hope she had to offer? No doubt, there was a great deal she didn't know about God, but with a caring heart, she spoke the truth she had.

Sometimes we feel like there are so many questions that we can't answer about the Lord and His ways. Some of these queries come from those with seeking hearts, and some might be spoken by those who, at this time, only want to mock. There are many things we who belong to Jesus are learning and even relearning; so, we might wonder how we can possibly enter into discussions that seem to spin on endlessly with no answers?

What if, like the girl in 2 Kings 5:1-6 we speak about the Lord, talking joyfully about what we do know about Him and His ways.

1. How Easily our faces can light up as we talk about the fact that our sins will never be held against us. Not ever, Psalm 103:12. The Savior isn't simply holding a grudge against us, just waiting for the time when He can blindside us by bringing up the wrongs we have done. People might do that, but the Savior under Whose wings we have run for refuge, Ruth 2:12, has already received the penalty we deserved, 2 Corinthians 5:21.

2. How easily our faces can light up as we talk about the fact that we are invited to speak with the One Whose wisdom, power and love have no limits, Isaiah 40:1-31.

Decades ago, my father wrote a United States senator, asking if he might have a job or unpaid work for me. He received a very nice note back, saying that there was nothing at that time. In spite of the fact that the senator was unable to hire me, my father was proud that he had received a response, and rightly so, and he kept that correspondence for the rest of his life. We live in a world where people are longing to be heard and understood. A desire everyone has. To be free to talk and be listened to, along with being accepted.

Imagine how truly amazing it is that we are invited to pour out our hearts to God, Psalm 62:8. He hears us when we speak with Him, 1 Peter 3:13; John 16:24. How truly wondrous it is that we have an audience with the King of Kings, Who is the Creator and One Who sustains everything, Colossians 1:16-17.

3. How easily our faces can light up when we talk about how the Savior has and continues to change us. Only a personal God delights in us so much that He spends a lifetime with us giving us the desire to change and enabling us to do so, Philippians 2:12-13. The fact that He corrects us is a reminder that He delights in us and that we belong to Him, Hebrews 12:5-8. God does not give us new birth, John 3:3 and then neglect to work in our lives. He is our Abba Who continues to guide us.

4. How easily our faces can light up when we talk about the fact that God is so big that we sometimes don't understand what He is doing. I know at first glance that might not seem something that lights up our eyes.

Yet, how many times have I comforted myself with the truth from Ephesians 3:20 that states the fact that God is able to do more than I can ask or imagine? So, if I can imagine an outcome that doesn't come to be, in some way I can't comprehend, God's imagination has gone way beyond my very small musings. So, if my thoughts for good for a situation seem delightful, what might God's way of working involve? I don't know because it is past what I can fathom. Yes, not understanding what God either did or did not do might bring tears to my eyes; however, when I think about the truth that He has a larger plan, my face can shine with anticipation, even through the tears.

With God's strengthening and enabling, let's talk about the precious things we do know about the Lord. Just maybe as we do that, people will see His light shining in our faces, and the Holy Spirit will stir their hearts with the desire to know Him too.

Let's let His light, light up the dark places around us, Matthew 5:14-16.

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