THE highlight for me at the end of a recent football game was watching so many two-hundred-and-fifty-pound men jumping and leaping for joy. To see such gladness expressed was a real pleasure, but it made me realize how very rarely we see anyone leap into the air for joy.
The Bible has much to say about true happiness. Christ Jesus said, ''Your joy no man taketh from you'' (John 16:22). The book of Acts records two accounts of men crippled from birth who began ''leaping'' in praise to God after being healed by the apostles (see Acts 3:1-8, 14:8-10). Certainly being released from the bondage of a long-standing physical problem is great cause for joyful leaping. Such spiritual buoyancy is actually natural to all of God's children all the time. It can very definitely be expressed even when we aren't celebrating our team's victory in a Super Bowl championship!
Recently, I visited a large city. It was a hot, humid day. After a long drive I arrived to find lots of gritty pavement, people rushing past each other, car horns honking-in total, an atmosphere very different from the peaceful green countryside where I lived. On the subway, the passengers' faces wore weary expressions. No one was smiling. I began to be downhearted, feeling sorry that anyone had to live in such oppressive conditions. As I continued along this depressing line of reasoning, I realized I was being pulled into believing that man is a mortal, material being cut off from God, who is the source of all good. I was believing that good is limited, and available only to those fortunate enough to be in the right place.
Right on that subway I decided to reject this kind of thinking and take a mental stand for joy. God is ever present and fills all space, so He was right there with me and with everyone in the subway. There was no reason to look or feel downcast. In fact, if all these people knew of God's great love for them, I thought, they might be leaping and shouting for joy right there on the train!
As these thoughts continued to flow, I felt the ends of my mouth begin to curl upward. In fact, I couldn't help but smile broadly. As my stop approached, I beamed a smile at the man sitting next to me and said, ''Have a good day.'' At first he was a bit startled, but then he smiled back and said, ''You too.''
With God's love, healing power, and grace all around us, there is never a time or place where we cannot feel and express God's delight in His man. This is true even if we seem to be stuck in the midst of some unyielding sorrow or pain. As we endeavor to look to our loving Father-Mother God for evidence of His goodness, we see the genuine well-being and beauty of His creation. As we value even small kindnesses and courtesies expressed by people around us, we are acknowledging God's gracious, healing presence in everyone's life. This brings a joy which, because it's rooted in divine Love, is neither elusive nor fickle.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''Like the great Exemplar, the healer should speak to disease as one having authority over it, leaving Soul to master the false evidences of the corporeal senses and to assert its claims over mortality and disease'' (p. 395). Letting God bring the details of our day into line with spiritual reality relieves us from the false responsibility of feeling we personally have to change a discordant scene into one of harmony. Wherever we are, we can take a stand for joy. We can firmly trust that God is in control of His universe and is working what the Bible calls ''His good pleasure'' in our lives.
My trip to the city might have been endured as just another day in an uncaring, cheerless metropolis. But God had shown me it was another opportunity to see the universal nature of His love for man. I spent the rest of that day striving to see only the wholly satisfied man God made each of us to be.
In the midst of an especially busy section of the city I noticed a beautiful green lawn that people were using as a picnic spot. Because of the city's international character, many people of different races lived in the same neighborhoods and did business with each other. I could feel the brotherhood of all men and women, the unity of all of God's children. And it made me feel like leaping for joy.