MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: The joy of the Lord
What does it mean: “The joy of the Lord is our strength?” Is it that God rejoices when we are strong, or that rejoicing in Him strengthens us? In any case, we know that positive speech rallies individuals and groups to persevere when the odds are stacked against them.
I grew up watching Tarzan in movies and comic books. I paid for my imitations of him leaping from tree limb to tree limb with falls, resulting in a trick knee. It would not bother me for months at a time. Then, it would give out on me without warning.
Such was the case one morning as I was walking the dog. We had not gone two blocks when My knee suddenly failed me worse than ever. As I hobbled back to the house, I angrily began rebuking the devil, declaring “I’m going to dance in midweek church service tonight!” Everyone who knew me well knew my dancing ability was laughable at best. But, Psalm 150 commands us to praise the Lord with the dance.
I got through a full shift on my job without drawing attention to my knee, putting most of my weight on my good leg. In the Bible we had the example of the Shulamite whose only son had died a couple of hours earlier. “How are you?” people greeted her. “It is well,” she replied. Likewise, Jesus expelled all of the negative thinkers from the presence of the dead girl’s parents. In both cases, faith, without the cancelling presence of negativity, raised the children to life.
It began as a typical Wednesday night church service, with prayer and a Scripture reading, followed by lively songs and testimonies glorifying God. As the music was going forth, I stepped into the aisle, making steps to the beat of the music. Remembering the goodness of the Lord, and all He had done for me, the Holy Spirit rose up in me, and I danced effortlessly. Afterward, I walked back to my seat with no difficulty and shared my testimony.
There are many examples of the empowerment of joy in the secular world. The song that declares that it is helpful to “whistle while you work;” the line from the Sesame Street song that says “Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear- just sing, sing your song!” I could speak of pre-game pep rallies, military marching chants, and so on.
The song that began “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave” was rewritten to “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” During the Civil War, Union troops were motivated by The Battle Hymn of the Republic, while Confederate soldiers were wishing they were at home “in the land of cotton.” The Union prevailed, while their opponents were just whistling Dixie.
Thus, it matters- not only that you have a positive confession- but, also that you are trusting I that which is reliable. In the movie Deep Blue Sea, mutant sharks began feasting on the scientists who created them. Everyone was depending on the Samuel L Jackson character to save the day. Spoiler alert! It did not turn out well.
If it had not been for the Lord, I literally would not have a leg to stand on. I never danced again as I did that night. The knee has given way again, but rarely, and only for a few seconds at a time- just enough to remind me that my healing is not by my personal strength, not by my will power, but by the Spirit of the Almighty, the All-Loving, the All-Knowing God.
Homer McQueen serves as assistant pastor of Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ, secretary at In His Shadow Outreach Ministries, chaplain for the Sherman District Parole Office, ministry volunteer for the Texas Youth Commission and Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a part-time pharmacist, and a full-time husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.