Remember the days of bench seats before seatbelt laws when a girl would sit in the middle of the vehicle right next a guy? He’d be driving with one hand on the wheel and the other around her shoulders or holding her hand. My grandpa, whenever he’d see that always said the seat must be broken or why else would she be sitting in the middle. I never figured out that he was joking till I got into my teens.
I heard about a couple, who’d been married somewhat over 20 years, who as they drove down the road noticed another couple sitting close like that. “Isn’t that sweet” said the wife? “Remember we used to sit like that? How come we don’t sit close like that anymore?” To which her husband, with a sly grin replied, “I never moved.”
In John 15 Jesus says that like a vine in a branch, if we stay intimately connected with him, the same way he lived in connection with God the Father, our lives will be full of joy. Notice he doesn’t say will be problem free. In fact later in the same discourse he says outright that as long as we live in this world life will be hard. But at the same time he assures us that, like joy, if we keep that intimate connection with him (Jesus uses the phrase “if you abide in me”) our heart and mind will be at peace despite circumstances.
Joy and peace. Sounds like a pretty good deal, but be careful here. It is easy to confuse joy and peace as the goal and Jesus as the means to that goal. In reality joy and peace are the indicators of an intimate connection with Jesus. As soon as we make joy and peace the object of our desire we lose them. Jesus is our goal, joy and peace are the evidence that we’re on the right track.
So how’s your joy level? How peaceful is your heart? If you’re lacking joy and your heart and mind are in turmoil you may want to pause for a while and get alone with God and ask him what’s happened. Odds are if you listen carefully you’ll hear him say, with bit of a grin, “I never moved. Why don’t you slide on over here and let me put my arm around you like we used to?”