I have been asked by a few people: "How did you come up with the title for this book?" The very unsexy answer is, I don’t know. It just came to me in the moment. When I was brainstorming, call it divine intervention, I came across the word JOY. It’s something we all want. I compared it with the headlines of my day-to-day environment in local television news and it was far enough east from my professional west that it seemed to fit.
However, now that the title is alive and fits just perfectly, it’s appropriate to dissect it. There is so much to unpack from this simple book title. Let’s break it down word by word.
“You will seek me and FIND me when you seek me with all of your heart” JER 29:13 NIV
You can’t separate finding from seeking. You can’t have one without the other. The only way to find something is start looking for it. Clearly, if you want to FIND joy beyond the headlines, you must look past the headlines. The key word is LOOK.
Are you LOOKING for joy? You won’t find it if you aren’t. We look by reading. The Bible says the Word is alive and active. It’s sharper than the sharpest double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The Word will come to life in your hands if you open it up and seek truth from it. There is a sure-fire way to miss out on the joy that exists all around us. If you’re not seeking, you won’t be finding. I have noticed this in my own life lately. I have been so consumed with creating this book that I have lost a little bit of ground in my faith journey. I found myself spending time on FJBTH’s things instead of daily Bible readings. That hampers my growth. That stunts my witness. How can I expect to effectively talk ABOUT God if I’m not consistently talking WITH God? I must SEEK before I can FIND. You do, too.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
It’s different from happiness. It’s quite different. Happiness is based on external factors. When those factors change, happiness can fizzle out. Joy is found only in an internal, sustainable source which never fades. Joy is sustainable even when you don’t feel happy.
I think we all want joy but deep down we don’t expect it to be real. We’ve heard about joy. We know it’s a thing. It just sounds too good to be true. Not only is that untrue, it’s 100 percent real. Joy is not only possible, but the Bible says we can be FILLED with joy. As you can see above, John says we can have joy in us and our joy “may be full”.
There is no such thing as too little joy. The moment we take a step towards Christ is the moment joy starts to stick to us in small doses. The closer we step towards a relationship with God, the more joy will cling to us. God wants us to be covered in joy. He wants us to be soaked by it.
“To know DEEP, lasting joy, we have to truly know Christ.” - Bryan Wilkerson, Christianity Today (1 John 1:1-4)
We are all so busy. We don’t dig deep anymore. If the story can’t be consumed in short snippets, we move on to something that will quench of appetite for information faster. Many people won’t even read this far down on a blog because it just too much time. More than 140 characters? I’m out. Can’t get your point across with a GIF/meme/photo? Not interested. That’s a problem when it comes to our connection with God.
God wants us to dig deep. He wants and intimate and complex relationship with each of His creations. He wants us to be infatuated with Him and dedicated to His purposes. That can’t happen if we don’t go the extra mile. Bare minimum Christianity is a faith stuck on life support. How do athletes become elite? Practice. Not just practice – DAILY practice.
The news cycle is fast and furious and the first things we see are not always the most uplifting. We must dig to find the good stuff. We must go BEYOND surface level and really explore our communities to find the things worth consuming. Only absorbing the lowest hanging fruits leaves us wanting more. The juiciest and ripest is often found highest on the branches. Quickly settling for what we can reach most conveniently can leave us unsatisfied.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…” ISAIAH 52:7
Good news. Is that a thing? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I know. I sit in a newsroom where on any given afternoon I will hear conversations about dead children, crooked politicians, or a scandal in a state agency’s office. Those are messages that end up on the top of newscasts. They shape the thoughts of the viewers and community.
Isaiah teaches us that feet that bring GOOD NEWS are “beautiful”. I want to share THAT kind of news. The headlines can feel heavy. They can weigh down our brains and crush our hearts. They are unavoidable, too. That’s the tough part. No matter where you go, there will be a headline waiting for you. Turn on a TV? It’s there. Computer? The internet teems with salacious headlines. Your cell phones? Don’t get me started.
The headlines only have power if you allow them to have power. You have the control over what enters your mind. You can fight back depressing headlines by reciting scripture. You can pray through your problems. You can overcome headlines if you come to God for guidance.
The title of this book was chosen for me. God laid it on my heart and I think it fits. I want people to read the pages and see that there is a lot of good all around us. We just need to dig a little deeper to find it.