THE UNDERCURRENT OF JOY

Music is built into the fabric of creation. There’s a rhythm to it all.

There’s night 

and there’s day 

and there’s seasons 

and there’s weather 

and there’s time 

and it all comes and goes, back and forth, over and over again.

All things working together, the give and take, the ebb and the flow, the ups and the downs —

a rhythm.

And this all a precedent since the very beginning, in Genesis 1:

There “was evening, and there was morning” the first day — and then the second, third, fourth…

There’s a rhythm and a harmony built into everything. Since the very beginning, a creative, musical-like energy was breathed out by God Himself.

I always thought, too, that it was kind of cool that the one in the Bible who God said was “a man after my own heart” was David — 

the music guy.

I love that I get to lead music on Sundays at church. I’m always listening, creating, or doing something with music in some way.

So, I tend to see and understand things better through a musical lens.

And this is no different for how I understand this word “joy.”

But first, a little music lesson.

In the music world, there’s a term that gets thrown around a lot called the pad.

Basically, the pad can be defined as a sustained chord or tone or sound generated by some sort of instrument, and it is often used in the background to fill in space. It is unchanging; it just sits there — constant — while all the other “musical” things — like chord changes and harmony and melody and rhythm and dynamics — happen over the top of it. It’s like the undercurrent to what the band is playing. And it always stays on that “home” or constant note — or what music theory will call the “tonic.” It’s that final resolution tone, which usually will be what’s called a “major” chord. In music theory, “major” chords are often described as the happy sounding chords, while “minor” chords are the sad sounding ones. Then you have “dissonant” chords which are weird — they’re often described as just not feeling right or off.

Ok. So. We have “joy.”

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes to “always be joyful.”

Always. Be. Joyful.

Always.

What?

This tells us that joy isn't an emotion like happiness or sadness, which can easily wane. No. Joy is a state of being that those in Christ can always be in, can always choose — by way of living life with Him.

In Galatians, Paul lists joy as a fruit of the Spirit. Meaning, it is something that is born within us, as a result of our growing in the spirit more and more into the likeness of Jesus. So, here’s what we have to understand here: joy isn't made. It’s nothing we could ever just decide to conjure up every day. Eugene Peterson writes, “Joy is what God gives, not what we work up.”

Joy is a consequence.

It’s a consequence of living life with God, being “transformed by the renewing of your mind”, as Romans 12 charges, every single day, growing more and more in the Spirit.

It’s a natural by-product, a characteristic, of growing and learning and living with God everyday.

It’s a fruit of the Spirit.

Now, what’s all this have to do with music and pads and major chords and minor chords?

We need to know that in Christ, joy is our pad.

It’s unchanging. It’s constant. It doesn't waver. It isn't tied to circumstances.

Sometimes life feels like major chords 

and sometimes life feels like minor chords

and sometime life feels like one big dissonant chord

where everything just seems to be

               spiraling

                             out 

                                      of   

                                           control.

And yet, behind it all, underneath all of that flux,

the pad. 

Joy. Ours. We’re called to “always” have it. Meaning, we’re called to be ever seeking Jesus, ever growing in His likeness, every day.

Because that’s where the joy comes from.

It’s the undercurrent of our lives. How beautiful, that in Jesus, joy can always be ours? That in Jesus, nothing can take our joy? That in Jesus, nothing else has to determine your joy for you, except Him? This joy comes from His love. And Paul writes in the book of Romans that “nothing can ever separate us” from this great love.

So, today, claim joy over your life, because you can claim His love over your life. Let today be the day that you decide to sit at the feet of the master, the teacher, Jesus, everyday, to learn and live life with Him. It’s from that intimacy that the fruit of joy is born in our lives.

Today, know that in Jesus, joy is the pad — the constant, unchanging, undercurrent of reality that can only be found in the love of God.