May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit Romans 15:13
I watched as he slowly poured water from a pitcher into a glass. He continued to pour even after the glass was full, causing the water to spill over the edges and down onto the table.
My pastor was illustrating the endless supply of joy the Lord has for us. As our hearts are filled, the joy has nowhere to go but out and around, affecting our lives and those around us.
But a simple analogy such as this has much more to it. Yes, the joy Christ offers is readily available, fulfilling, and infinite. However, are our hearts open to receive it and transparent enough to allow it to affect our lives?
The cup my pastor used was a tall, clear drinking glass with a wide open spout. It effortlessly received the water without resistance or the barrier of a lid. And when our hearts are open and free from preoccupation elsewhere, the Lord’s joy can be easily received and felt.
But what if a heart is not open nor transparent, I wondered? Could the joy of the Lord have the same impact?
Consider an insulted tumbler water bottle with a flip-top drinking spout. Sure, the spout is large enough to drink from, but if water was poured in through it, most would hit the lid and splash away rather than enter the bottle. Filling the tumbler would be best accomplished by removing the entire lid.
Our hearts can be much like the tumbler bottle rather than a tall dinner glass. Life experience often teaches what we should and should not be openly honest about; what feels good and accepting and what doesn’t. We learn to protect the soft inner flesh of our hearts by guarding it, but in fact, it is this very vulnerability that God needs in order for His love and joy to fill us.
As we approach Palm Sunday and Easter, I think of the Pharisee’s inability to understand Jesus’ position as King of the Jews. Fulfilling prophecy, Jesus had arrived to Jerusalem by donkey and was welcomed by hundreds of Israelites who gathered there to celebrate Passover. But many of the religious leaders refused to believe this could be their long awaited King. Their hearts were like the tumbler with the flip-top lid – closed to the possibility that who they had expected all along was different than who had actually come to save their people.
John 12:10 says,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”
They couldn’t see Jesus as Lord, nor could they understand His divinity. They couldn’t receive His joy and love, it simply splashed off the lid of their hearts.
Despite the overwhelming passion the Lord has for us, He gives us the choice to allow Him to transform our hearts from one that is dark and closed to one that is transparent and open. He never forces us to choose Him, but is ready and waiting to pour His joy – the joy that surpasses all understanding – into our hearts.
If you’ve never experienced this type of joy, could there be something preventing your hear from receiving it? Perhaps you’re afraid of being vulnerable or allowing the Lord to see the hidden places in your heart. Maybe you’ve questioned the goodness of God or His identity as the Author of Life.
If your heart seems more like an insulated tumbler than a tall dinner glass don’t loose heart. There is hope for any and all to be transformed, allowing the overwhelming, never-ending joy of the Lord to fill our hearts. And as it does, our life and the life of those around us will be evidence of it’s overflow.
Lord, thank you for the joy we have available to us through Jesus. Soften our hardened hearts, opening them to receive Your joy. Teach us to welcome Your presence as the Israelites did in Jerusalem – “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to the King!”