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Women of the Advent | July 26, 2022

“Enjoy, we made it for you”

I took our oldest son to see Top Gun: Maverick at the beginning of the summer.  I loved the whole experience—we had a great time together, the theater was packed, and everyone literally cheered together for the triumph of the good guys and the personal redemption and reconciliation between characters. 

But the thing that really sets the stage for the movie is a short clip of Tom Cruise just before it begins. It’s just him, looking straight at the audience, talking about the joy of making the movie. He ends his intro saying, “I hope you enjoy; we made it for you.” Cue the classic Top Gun music. Well, call me a sucker, but I was tearing up and primed to love every minute of the movie before it even began. It really felt, for just a moment, that our dark and divided world was put on hold, and we could just enjoy a fantastic movie that was made specifically for all the weary people that found themselves at the 6:30 p.m. showing in theater 11.

The half-life of my movie joy was of course quite short, but I have reflected often in the weeks since on the joy of the experience. All good things, all experiences of joy and hope, no matter how fleeting, are tastes of what is truly good and truly satisfying. We can enjoy a good movie, a good friend, or a rare night of sibling harmony most when we recognize that these things are not ends unto themselves but signposts toward him who is love incarnate, the one who came that we might have life and life abundant. 

Jesus tells us in John 15, after exhorting us to abide in his love, “these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” And in the Psalms we are told that “in his presence there is fullness of joy!” (Psalm 16:11)

We so quickly flit from little joy to little joy that we forget how to soak in the lasting Joy that we are promised in the word of God. Just listen to depth of the language from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, remembering that this is the same Holy Spirit that dwells in us as believers:

…may [he] give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17-23)

This is a hope so complete that it is nearly incomprehensible for us. The joy that comes from this hope is available to us regardless of circumstances because it is based in the reality of who Jesus is and what he has accomplished. Paul calls it the secret of contentment despite suffering. We are often content for joy to mean a momentary escape from the difficulty of the world. Not that God in his mercy does not grant us these moments of reprieve (see my movie experience), but the joy he invites us to is so much deeper and always available, as his Spirit is always with us.

As C.S. Lewis put it so well, “Our desires are not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Dear sisters, regardless of where you find yourself this summer, the invitation to remember your Joy is solid and available. The good news of Jesus is no momentary salve, it is the very power of God at work in your life and in mine. It is the promise that he is accomplishing his good work. Our world is hard indeed, but our vision of the love and blessing of our God is far too small. He loved you so much that he gave his only Son for you, and he invites you into the joy of an inheritance that is unperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Hear his invitation again in Ephesians: 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

In other words—enjoy, he did it for you.

— Emily Menendez

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