Finding joy in an award, a dog named Lemon, and a Mr. Bill toy

What is joy? We talk about it on this show, and we credit God for giving us joy, but can we define it, in a concrete way? And what does it have to do with the funny sound you just heard?

It’s difficult describing joy, because it’s an emotion, a feeling, and in some ways can’t be defined. But no one can deny what fills us with this fruit of the spirit. And we can feel joy without sacrificing the other fruits of the spirit. God wants us to feel joy in our spirit. He has created so many things just for us that give us joy, and we must embrace his gifts.

Paul tells us in Galatians 5:22:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,  faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 

Love comes first, but joy is its supernatural runner-up. And everything follows from love and joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. It is no accident that love and joy come first.

This may sound sacrilegious, but I can find joy in the smallest thing, or the silliest.

(sound effect of Mr. Bill)

For those of you born after 1980, you might not know what that sound is. It’s the squeal of Mr. Bill, a clay figurine clown star of a parody of children’s clay animation shows created by Walter Williams. I first saw him on Saturday Night Live in 1976.

Why does Mr. Bill give me joy? It’s not the character itself. The squeal  YOU just heard came from a Mr. Bill dog toy. When my black Labrador named Lemon carries it around the house, every so often she applies enough pressure on the dog toy to make the famous sound.

(sound effect of Mr. Bill)

I’ll be in another room and I’ll hear Mr. Bill’s “Oh Noooo” and just giggle. It cracks me up that she is enjoying her toy and making me laugh at the same time. See, I really love Lemon, she is my fur-kid and brings me so much joy. Not everyone understands the connection between man and animal, but God does. In Genesis chapter 1, it says he made the animals for man to reign over and give names to.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So Lemon for sure brings me joy. How we found the toy was strange, one of those God moments. My husband, Tim, and I were leaving the Oklahoma History Center after an evening of recognition to Oklahoma Journalists. I had been inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame along with several other worthy men and women. Tim saw something on the ground and picked it up. It was the toy. Lying there still in its packaging but not in a bag. At first we thought it was a children’s toy, but then we saw the words “dog toy” and knew it would be perfect for Lemon.

I say this was a God moment because of how we found the toy outside where I had been given that award. Just before Paul lists of the fruits of the spirit, he had warned against walking in the flesh, which includes adulteries, jealousies, envy, wrath, selfish ambitions and others. I feel particularly warned against pride. I had a great honor Friday night, but I must NOT believe it is my award. It is God’s. And I said so in my acceptance video.

Paul said, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

My spiritual mentor told us in small group that we should be on the lookout, as we were heading into a season of offense. With offense goes pride. Refusing to forgive, not letting go of hate or selfishness. It is a constant battle.

I said in the beginning that it’s not easy to define joy. It’s also difficult to find it and claim it sometimes. That’s when we have to look to him and remember. Remember his faithfulness to us. Remember what he has done for. Remember what he has created for us. I love Elevation Worship’s song, “Do it Again,” because it is that reminder we need.

When the bridge comes, I just want to sing out:

I’ve seen You move, You move the mountains

And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

You made a way, where there was no way

And I believe, I’ll see You do it again

We must remember, choose and claim that fruit of the spirit. Joy. And we must do it without walking in the flesh. No pride. No arrogance. No offense.

So, if it takes a friendly dog with the name of a fruit to help me remember that. So be it. Thanks, God, for the daily reminder. I love you, Lord, you are such a good, good Father.

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