What makes a sunrise or sunset memorable is the presence of clouds. Clouds capture the purples, pinks, oranges and gold of a sunrise or sunset. Because of clouds, we can be stopped in our tracks by the breathtaking beauty of dawn or dusk.
In life, however, we prefer an unclouded sky. The clouds of difficulty, disappointment and loss aren’t something we welcome with gratitude when they show up in our lives. And yet, those clouds are what make the good times especially sweet for us.
I believe that is what happened on Friday of our week in Guatemala. We were in the village an extra day, drilling a second well after the first well failed. While water poured out of the new well with vigor, praise poured out with equal vigor from Estella, the homeowner who had donated the land for the well and who had endured all of us using her latrine, filling her yard with mud, gravel and equipment, and the constant noise and activity of the drilling project. After experiencing the disappointment and possibly wondering what she had gotten herself into, Estella was a picture of pure, unbounded joy, soaked in fresh water from head to toe! Seeing her joy was the best moment of the trip for me.
The freedom to express praise and joy must make God happy. Children are quick to express their joy but I confess I haven’t always been as free in celebrating God’s generosity toward me. Something about the week in Guatemala seemed to flip a switch within me, for even before Estella’s joyful celebration on Friday, I found myself more willing to discard “appearances” to simply be fun and have fun. That freedom seemed to bubble up from my heart, leading me to think that maybe I was catching a glimpse of what it means to have the uninhibited faith and joy of a child.
Estella’s unbridled joy was the exclamation point on the nudges toward freedom I experienced during the week. By Friday, I wasn’t simply wading into the water of joy and freedom; I was soaked in it along with Estella!
Psalm 36:7-9 expresses a life freed for joy: Your faithful love is priceless, God! Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the bounty of your house; you let them drink from your river of pure joy.
Estella drank from the river of pure joy the Friday we finished the well. God’s faithful love should be sufficient cause for me to live a life of pure joy.