Escondido, CA

‘Setting the record straight’



“Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la la la! ‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la!”

Feeling jolly yet?

I’m thinking that roughly half of the nation is going to have a hard time “getting their jolly on” this holiday season due to the aftermath of the elections. Perhaps some jolly of the bittersweet kind will be the best that many will be able to muster up.

Of course, there are other factors that make the holiday season especially difficult; e.g. the empty chair that the spouse, parent, or child used to fill, the added stress of long shopping lines and flight layovers, finding the time to decorate and cook…

In the midst of all the fuss and frenzy, God has a gift for you and you don’t have to wait until Christmas morning to unwrap it! It’s something that we all long for and it’s something we tend to have a hard time conceptualizing.

His gift is joy!

This is truly a gift from God because, unlike happiness which is fleeting, joy can remain a constant despite the changing of the seasons. You can still be in a state of joy and yet not “feel” happy. That’s amazing! Why then do so many not live in a state of joy?

Well, because the gift needs to be unwrapped.

In the Bible, God’s unwavering joy is closely related to His grace. Grace is available to you only if you understand your desperate need for it. Also, to even have this understanding is evidence of God’s grace in your life! This, my friend, is the unwrapping of the gift.

C.S. Lewis provides the insight we need: “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Ah, but when a half-hearted creature finally realizes the plight of “chasing the wind,” of the vanity of it all, then the gift materializes before his eyes and the unwrapping begins.

‘Tis the season to be jolly indeed! Not only this holiday season but all the seasons of life. Joy can be a constant because, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Whatever I thought was valuable in this life pales significantly compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I consider all other things as nothing so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” – Phillipians 3:7-9 (Paraphrased).

To be found in Jesus is the best way I can think of at the moment to describe God’s gift of joy. To be found in Him means that your current season and circumstances don’t control you anymore. They don’t define you like they used to. Rather, you’re learning more and more who you are in Him.

That’s what I call an “indescribable and glorious joy!” – 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV).

~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 23 years and have three children age 13 years and under. Jacob (13), Lily (11), and Luke (10). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 12 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Times-Advocate.

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