Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

I can still feel the air that would pour in through the windows of my reclaimed junker pickup truck. The noise the truck would make was truly fantastic. It’s whining, creening belt system screeched me through the small city center with trees taller than buildings, three blocks long by three wide. If you sped at a rate of three miles an hour over the speed limit, you could miss the entire downtown if you got to the light just as it turned green at the first street.

But more often than not, with my buddy riding shotgun, we would sit at the last light and wait. That summer was important in my life. It hosted one of my greatest personal failures and the subsequent great redemption. It was the year I took over a large ministry for four years. It was the year that David Crowder’s anthemic song about joy would be shouted at top volume from within my pickup truck.

We called them “Joy Rides.”

It went like this, we would mount up into my truck and start rolling down the street with all four of the windows in the “down” position. The song starts off with words and no musical hook,

And he set me on fire, and I am burnin alive
With this breath in my lungs, I am coming undone! [1]

Our job was to scream the entire song from start to finish, regardless of who was walking next to the truck at a stop sign, or driving next to us when we were looking straight up crazy as we rolled.

And I cannot hold it in and remain composed
Lord’s taken over me and so I propose
To letting myself go
I am letting myself go [2]

All pretty easy song singing, but then the music hangs in the air in perfect and sweet anticipation for the drum beat drop that is coming.

One of the greatest gifts given to mankind from God is that of anticipation, hope, faith, and then the joy of fulfilled promise and desire. Somehow, I feel that we, as a people living with so much instant satisfaction available to us, have lost the real joy of anticipation. We’re like that bratty girl in Willy Wonka who wants the whole world and will simultaneously hold its breath and scream uncontrollably until we get what we want.

But there is something bracing and building in the work of waiting. There’s a sweet strain to life. In anticipation of what is to come, we taste a thousand possibilities, not just of what actually transpires, but infinite variety to what could be. If the Creator of our desire is infinite, so is the possibility of His expression for how He will fulfill His plans for us. Anticipation teaches us hope.

But the problem that cuts in is disappointed hope.

What if I hope for something and it doesn’t come to fruition?

That’s gonna happen.

But here’s the thing. We need to get away from establishing our joy within the attainment of the things for which we hope and replace it with the joy for the pursuit of living life well. It reminds me of this scene from Balboa.

If you’re not feeling like clicking the video, I’ll break down the best line. “It’s not about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

I have a great deal of joy picking myself up from disappointment and setting my sights on my goals, knowing that in the first step after a failure, I feel the strength of God flow through me, and I feel His joy.

After an eternity of waiting for that perfect strain of music to resolve itself, Eric and I would sing the simple chorus of our joy ride.

You are my joy
You are my joy
you are my joy
You are my joyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! [3]

You really have to listen to the song for the true impact of the fun of our rides. It was hilarious because now and then, I wouldn’t speed through town and we would scream “JOYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!” at an utterly bewildered, but secretly entertained, townie walking past.

My hope was that they would look at our unashamed grins as we rolled along singing about joy that they would desire a joy as full as ours as we went about our business, and desire to seek after that kind of silly and serious pursuit of the great gift of joy given that all may seek and be satisfied in it.

So we press on toward the goal, not of having it, but of seeking it. To know God, the highest pleasure of any living creature, even just to think of such a lofty idea, fills my heart with anticipation. I knew of Him. But I seek as I pursue life today to know Him intimately. To know Him beside me as I go about my work, as I learn, as I grown, as I discuss, think, pray, strive, fail, and pick myself up again. I seek to know His plan, even if it means asking ten more questions for every one that isn’t answered. I seek to find what He has laid out for me to pick up today, even if it is a broom and dust pan, a hammer and a nail, or sandpaper and saw, rather than the gift of fulfillment of my desire.

And I hope as I do it, I make a spectacle of joy-filled pursuit of myself and that I might have a good buddy beside me having as much fun as me.

Give the song a listen and imagine a few dorks rolling around in a noisy pickup truck. I dare you to not smile.

1. David Crowder, “You Are My Joy,” A Collision. EMI CMG Publishing.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

Categories: WorshipTags: , , , , ,

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