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Unforgettable Joy

Weekly Devotionals

Unforgettable Joy

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. – Isaiah 12:6

When I was a young boy growing up in New Jersey in the mid 1980s, I recall that Christmas season was one of my least favorite times of the year. It’s not that I didn’t like to get in the Christmas spirit, but I always got envious of my friends who had really flashy Christmas trees, had stuffed stockings with tons of treats in them, and got the latest and coolest toys that all the kids were raving about. But for us, we couldn’t really afford that kind of stuff. Our old K-Mart tree had been recycled so many times there were more fake pine needles left in the box than there were on the tree. Instead of the latest Transformer toys for presents, we got practical stuff that we needed, like socks or underwear. Although I knew things would not change from year to year, I would still get my hopes up when Christmas season came around, and I would always be majorly disappointed after all was said and done.

Then one year, my dad told us to all get dressed up really fancy because we were going out for a special Christmas dinner. I got dressed in my second-hand double-breasted pinstripe suit. My clip-on tie was too tattered, so I went tieless, and I put on my best pair of Pro Keds. My brothers and my mom got all dressed up too. And then we all got in our maroon Oldsmobile station wagon, and my dad drove us into New York City.

He took us to the Rockefeller Center, and we went all the way up to the top floor to a really fancy restaurant called the Rainbow Room. I didn’t know how famous that place was until I became an adult, but at the time it was the only restaurant I had been to which I could recall where the lighting was so dim that you needed candles to see the other people at the table. I don’t remember what we ate, but I just remember everything being really fancy. My dad had never had eggnog before in his life, and when he ordered one because we kept badgering him to try it, we were shocked to see his face get so red because of the alcohol content that none of us knew that eggnog had. It was just an amazing time our family spent on the top of Manhattan looking down on the world on that one unforgettable Christmas evening.

Afterward, we went for a walk around the famous ice rink in front of the Rockefeller Center and looked on with awe at all the impressive ice sculptures that lined the sidewalk. And who could forget the amazing Christmas tree that towered over the entire scene, with all its wondrous glow and sparkle? At the end of the night, I must have passed out from all the excitement, because the last thing I remember was my dad laying my head down in my pillow, and me just falling asleep in my clothes. After that evening, whenever I think back to my childhood Christmas experiences, I don’t recall any of the disappointments, but I only remember that one special night with great fondness.

I know Christmas is so much more than Christmas trees and presents. I know Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because of this, Christmas should be the time of the greatest joy. However, Christmas is anything but joyous for many people. Jesus came to this dark and hopeless world to be our only hope. He came to give joy to those who had no joy. So I’d like to challenge you this Christmas season. How can you be God’s joy to someone around you who has no joy? I’m sure that if you look around you, you can find people who could use a good dose of Jesus’ love and joy. Perhaps it’s a little child. Perhaps it’s an orphan. Perhaps it’s a friend who is suffering a severe case of homesickness. Remember the joy that Christ gave to us by him coming into our lives, and let us emulate that and be Christ’s joy to someone else. I challenge you to bring unforgettable joy to someone else this Christmas.

Happy Christmas and Joy to the World!