Sunshine is absolutely vital to a healthy garden. Plants that have no sunlight are sickly, thin, and die at the least provocation. They are colorless and rarely produce anything worth while. Plants take the energy from sunlight and convert it through a process called photosynthesis into energy that is usable by the plant for life and growth. This is what sets apart a plant grown in full sunshine from a plant grown in darkness or only partial light. Look at the photo to the left. The first plant only gets some sunshine. It’s lopsided and crooked, with spindly stalks. The second plant got no sunlight at all. It is pale and sickly, and some of the stalks have fallen completely over. The third plant is full, healthy, and sturdy.
Sunshine is vital not only to plants, but to humans as well! We get the all important Vitamin D from sunshine which can help with so many things from lifting depression to strengthening bones and muscles. There is something deeply healing and calming about simply sitting or laying in the sunshine for a while. However, while there are many more benefits gained from sunshine than I can describe here, there is another kind of sunlight that is even more important to us as Christians: the light of the Son of God that shines into our souls and out through our words and actions. This Sonlight creates a different kind of “Vitamin D” in our lives…an all-purpose healing agent that we sometimes call Joy.
Joy…when a lot of people think of joy, they tend to define it as extreme happiness, but I believe it is something much deeper and more meaningful than that. Psalm 16:11 says this: “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (NASB). In the presence of God is found something called the fullness of joy, what I have come to recognize as a deep sense of inner peace and contentment that bubbles up into something that resembles happiness, but without stings attached. Joy is what sustains the souls and fills it with the ability to remain at peace even when the world is falling apart around you. Another verse that defines joy is Psalm 27:6:
“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD” (vs. 4-6, NASB).
Sacrifice with shouts of joy. Sacrifice means giving up something, and it is often a scary word and thought. Yet, David sought to dwell in the house of the Lord, knowing that he would be sheltered and concealed in the day of trouble, and lifted high above his enemies. With this knowledge, he was able to go through anything with a shout of joy, a depth of peace that allowed him to praise God no matter what he faced.
I believe that joy is one of those things a Christian can’t live without. Just like those plants pictured above, the joy produced when God’s love flows through us will build us up, strengthen and grow us. However, when we as Christians live without joy, we begin to fade. Our life loses its color and it’s ability to produce any fruit. Parts of our character begin to shrivel and droop, eventually becoming ugly blotches of dead foliage that blights and mars our beauty. Without joy…we die.
Make sure your life is exposed fully to the light of Jesus. Bask in Him. Immerse yourself in God’s Word, worship with abandon. Absorb the brilliance of Christ’s light into yourself and allow Him to fill your innermost heart with a joy that heals every hurt and lightens every load.