Do you know someone who has the gift of joy? I do, and I want to celebrate him today.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Psalm 5:11 – NIV
True confessions here. I have a strong affinity for biscuits and sweet tea. It’s part of being Southern born and bred! My husband Eric didn’t grow up Southern, but he has definitely been assimilated! He thinks that a weekly stop at Biscuitville is mandatory! Of course, I go along with him. It wouldn’t be right to let him go alone! Ha!
We cruised to Biscuitville this morning. I nabbed our usual booth and waited for Eric to bring the goods. My selection was as it always is, a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit coupled with a sweet tea. Eric had his usual steak and cheese with his much required coffee. The biscuits were baked to perfection as usual, but somehow they didn’t taste quite as good. The restaurant was busy, but somehow the place just seemed too quiet. Something was missing . That something was Mr. H.
Mr. H was always there. He rarely missed a morning. But today, Mr H’s chair was vacant.
Over the years as we have shown up for breakfast, we have gotten to know the regular morning crowd. We’re on a first name basis with several of the employees. We even have our favorite booth near the back of the dining room. It’s a great spot because it’s close to Mr. H’s table.
All the regulars and staff have known Mr. H for years. You couldn’t miss him. The sound of his merry chuckle greeted you the moment you walk through the door. His delightful voice carried across the bustling room and enveloped you like a snug warm blanket.
Every morning without fail, Mr. H found his way to the restaurant, sometimes walking, and other times hitching a ride with a friend. He posted up at the long table near the huge bank of windows and began his morning greetings to passersby. Perhaps it was his winning smile or his gleeful laugh, but regulars and strangers alike never failed to pause and speak to him. Before long, he was surrounded by a crowd of his retired cronies, and they would happily shoot the breeze together for an hour or two.
No matter the age, Mr. H drew everyone in like a magnet. He picked at the toddlers and teased the ladies. He had a way of making you feel like he was just sitting there waiting for you to show up and make his day.
What set Mr. H apart from others is that Mr. H had the gift of joy. It poured forth from him like a rushing waterfall. Standing in his presence, his joy washed over you. I couldn’t speak a word with him without smiling. As I munched on my biscuit and sipped my sweet tea, I love to listen to him chat with the other customers. At the sound of his exuberant conversation, I invariably found a grin spreading across my face.
No doubt about it, Mr. H was a fountain of joy. It wasn’t as if his circumstances were so jolly or that he hadn’t a care in the world. While I don’t know much about his personal life, I know enough to know that his life wasn’t a bed of roses. I am quite sure that his joy didn’t come from circumstances, but from a much deeper source. Though I never had a deep faith discussion with him, it was quite clear to me that Mr. H knew Jesus, and that knowledge was the source of his joy.
Did you notice that I said Mr. H had the gift of joy? His joy was not merely a state of mind, but a gift he chose to open every day. Surely his joy was the fruit of the Spirit, but this man did something many of us fail to do. He took his gift and used it to bless others. He didn’t hoard it or hide it. He chose daily to give it away.
For decades, the merry jingle of Mr. H’s voice had mingled with the sweet Southern scent of baking biscuits, making breakfast at Biscuitville in Graham a delightful treat. Yet, when Eric and I returned from our extended cross-country RV trip several weeks ago, we found Mr. H‘s seat vacant. Tears formed in our eyes when we learned that Mr. H died in his sleep a few weeks before. I was so sad , but I am quite certain. Heaven has a new infusion of joy because Mr. H has arrived and taken his rightful place at the table.
As I sat munching on my biscuit and missing the sound of his gleeful laugh, I thought about all the joy that gentle man brought to those around him. Now it’s our turn. Now it’s our turn to make our smiles count and our greetings cheerful. It’s our turn to say “Good Morning” and really mean it.
Mr. H is no longer here to spread the gift of joy around like confetti. But we are.
Let Mr. H be our example to emulate. May we take our eyes off our circumstances and focus on the source of true joy that is available to all of us. May we grasp the gift of joy, and like my jolly friend, choose without fail to open it, cherish it, and give that blessed gift away.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11 – NIV
O Good and Gracious God, thank You for the gift of joy that comes from knowing Jesus. Thank You for those in our paths who cherish this gift and share it with others. What a blessing they are to us! How they brighten our world! Help us cultivate Your gift of joy, and choose without fail to give it away.
In the Joyous Name of Jesus, we give thanks and praise,