C. S. Lewis called them “stabs of joy.” They were those moments of ecstasy that come at the most unforeseen times and often from the smallest incidents. As a child Lewis felt these piercings of his heart when seeing a picture of the Norse gods… and he was enraptured by the power of the scene, and its otherworldly “Northerness.” Music also could evoke these flashes of bliss for him. The search for joy became a focused desire of his life. Indeed, his autobiography is entitled Surprised By Joy and it is there he describes how he found the deepest desires of his heart fulfilled only when he discovered true joy in Christ.
I had one of these stabs of joy on the way to work this morning. As I was turning onto one road, I happened to glance at a small bank in front of a house on the opposite side of the street. The bank had a patch of lilies in bloom—yellow daylilies, orange tiger lilies, and some type of white lily with rose-red edges. Gorgeous. It was only a brief encounter with pure beauty… but what an encounter! It brought joy to my heart and tranquility to my soul. It was one of those moments when life became more focused. Seeing such beauty caused me to realize how really big and wonderful and amazing the world God created truly is. It reminded me to see beyond my own problems and burdens, and see a larger view of the universe. For we live in a universe fashioned by a wise Creator, who loves the majestic and the humble, the beautiful and the homely, the supernal and the ordinary. We serve and follow a King who runs the entire universe, and yet cares for lilies and sparrows and forgetful, stumbling preachers/sinners/saints/creatures like me. This moment of bliss reminded of what is truly important and valuable in life.
It also made me wonder… How often do we miss such moments of joy? It is so easy to be focused on what is missing, lost, or absent from our lives. Instead of seeing the flowers, we see only dirt. Instead of experiencing joy we are tuned in to the hurts, pains, and cares of life. Our hearts are rarely stabbed by joy because they are toughened by the worries of life. They have become calloused to the point that we no longer are sensitive or open to those fleeting ecstatic, rapturous moments. And how very, very much we miss.
The poet said that we should stop and smell the roses. Sad to say, we often do not even see the roses, much less stop long enough to breathe in their fragrance. And our lives are diminished greatly by this.
So let me encourage you today. Do not take for granted these little moments from God. For these small encounters, these modest offerings of the divine, are really the stuff of life. They are so often what makes the larger aspects of our lives vibrantly meaningful. So don’t miss the lilies and hummingbirds, the rainbows and rain drops, the smiles and fun, the joy and beauty that God brings your way. These humble gifts from the Almighty may just be the most perfect images of heaven that you will experience this day.