RadNote: Adios, July. Welcome, August.
I would like to thank the people of the Panera Bread Company, a division of the YAKAMINGOONTZATENBLITZ corporation (perhaps), for the introduction of ceramic coffee mugs to their restaurants. I have found myself disliking the whole paper coffee cup thing, which rides in tandem with my general dislike of plastic travel mugs, which is a subsidiary of my general malaise toward those metal travel mugs that make the coffee taste like metal coffee, a flavor that Mr. Biggby himself once said “will never be sold in my stores, as long as they’re called ‘Beaners’, which they always will be, probably.” Ceramic/Porcelain mugs are the best way to transfer coffee from pot to mouth, in my humble and caffeinated opinion, and its because of this new invention that is actually quite old that I rejoice.
I use the word “rejoice” quite loosely because the source of my joy is from a place much deeper than good coffee. There is a passage in Nehemiah that offers reassurance that “the Joy of the Lord is your strength”, which I have found to be true in an especially profound way in these past weeks as several small crisis have erupted. Old sayings like “it all fell apart” or “it all went to the pits” or “that one about fans and fecal matter” have been especially meaningful because they’ve been true for us on a number of fronts. I won’t go into detail, at least not right now, mostly because as soon as I do I will inadvertently solicit “awwww” instead of “a ha”, a risk that I run constantly whenever I share a personal issue. Be that as it may, let me skip right to the end and share my a ha moment.
What do joy and strength have in common? Besides the obvious — that they’re both english words — there is little else. We usually don’t see both on display. You’ve seen the Power Team, right? Those guys that bench press elementary schools and rip phone books (side note: with the internet now looking so promising, what will they rip? Kias?) That’s strength. They are strong.
Now think about that Hot Pockets guy or the earlier seasons of Seinfeld. That’s funny and brings people joy. Yes, I know. Joy doesn’t equal happy. But if you’re truly happy, you’re probably truly joyful, too. When joy shakes your hand, it’s hospitable and warm, perhaps even with one of those high-larious electric shock things that people use when they want to really give people who used to be their friends a real jolt. When strength shakes your hand, it’s solid, perhaps crushing, and usually involves some kind of transformation like your 4th and 5th digit now counting as just your super 4th digit. Now that’s strong. Power Team — please disregard that idea.
Strength = the ability to withstand adversity. Joy = catalyst of strength. If I’m full of joy, I perceive the difficult with different eyes. And when the joy is of the Lord, I see it with His perspective, which changes just about everything. It sets you free. You know that in the end, everything is going to be fine. And that changes how we handle tough times. It almost puts a bit of spring in your step, even when you’re in the gutter. Tragedy? Still strikes. Pain? Still there. Weeping? Yups. But its okay. Why? The Lord. His joy.
Strength. And now, let the weak say “I am strong”. Because of what the Lord has done.
So that’s what I know. Even better, I can testify to His power. Because the joy of the Lord is my strength. Through Jesus. Forever.
Which probably helps me appreciate things like ceramic mugs at Panera.