Is Heaven's Joy Your Joy?

What gets you celebrating?

  • A birthday? 
  • A graduation?
  • A promotion?
  • A baby’s first step?
  • A new house?
  • A new car?
  • An engagement ring?
  • A winning shot?
  • A home run?
  • A goal?
  • A hole-in-one?
  • Landing the big deal?
  • Watching your stocks rise?
  • Making a sale?
  • Seeing a long-lost friend?

HOLD IT! Go back to that last one—a long-lost friend. Let’s focus on the word “lost” for a moment. I lost a devotional once. I had spent considerable time crafting the words when I accidentally erased it from my hard drive.

I was distraught. There was no way I could resurrect that piece. I would never be able to get the words just right.

A tiny ray of hope broke through my anguish when I remembered I had printed an earlier draft. Unfortunately, I had already thrown it away. Could I salvage it?

Without the slightest hesitation I made a beeline for the office garbage can. Unashamedly and methodically I picked through the trash until I found it.

I was elated—over a piece of paper.  My joy reminded me (and convicted me) of a deeper joy Jesus describes in Luke 15.

Jesus tells three celebration stories in that chapter. One focuses on a lost sheep, another on a lost coin, and a third on a lost son. Each story highlights the great celebration over finding what was lost. And after each story Jesus drives home his point:

Lost people matter to God!
  • “Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”
  • “Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”
  • “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found.’”  Luke 15 The Message

If we search for what we value there is no doubt that people are what matters to God. Not just the “nice” people who are lost and away from him, but the nasty ones whom we think will never bow before him. This is heaven's joy, seeing people far away from God come home to him.

But Jesus did not sit passively waiting for the wanderer to return. He intentionally arranged his life to rub shoulders with the doubters, the detractors, and hardened unbelievers. Why? To show them and tell them his good news of a better way.

I celebrated over paper found. God celebrates over lost people found.

"Lord, readjust my focus, my heart, my time, and my life to seek, to share, and to celebrate lost people like you do. Make heaven's joy my joy."