Joy: Gratitude Is The On-Ramp To Joy | May 22, 2023

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The words of the first verse in Brandon Lake’s song, Gratitude, say:

 All my words fall short
I got nothing new
How could I express
All my gratitude?

In yesterday’s message, Pastor Michel Hendricks talked about how joy begins on the right side of the brain, the non-verbal side. Before we can ever communicate joy from the left side of the brain with words, we feel it in our bodies. As an infant, our brains develop on joy as we delight in the face of our caregiver before we ever have any words.

 As adults, joy is still the fuel that fills our tanks and transforms us into Christlikeness. So how can we increase our joy capacity? Here is an excerpt from Michel’s book, The Other Half of Church:

 When I learned that joy was relational and often nonverbal, I asked Jim at one gathering, “How do I increase my joy?” He looked at me across the table and asked me to close my eyes. He said, “Think of a memory that makes you feel grateful and connected to God in that moment.” Then he told me to go back and relive the experience for ten seconds. I closed my eyes and went back to a memory in the mountains of Colorado. I sensed God encouraging me as I watched a red-tailed hawk. I remembered seeing the wind ruffling the feathers of its neck as it sat on top of a ponderosa pine tree.

I opened my eyes as Jim asked me to give the memory a short title. I didn’t hesitate. “Red-tailed hawk.” 

Jim then asked me what I felt in my body when I relived red-tailed hawk. I sat in silence for a few seconds. It was hard for me to describe. “It feels like a cramp of excitement between my chest and my stomach.”

Next he asked, “What do you think God might have been wanting to impress on you by that memory?” I had to sit for a while. This was not natural for me, so I closed my eyes again, and as I remembered the wind ruffling the feathers of the hawk, I answered, “God is reminding me that He loves me and is with me, and I also sense that He is very glad I am in this room right now learning from you.”

Jim said this exercise is designed to increase a person’s joy capacity. He instructed all of us around the table to start a list of grateful memories with a goal of having at least ten. “Red-tailed hawk is your first entry. Use the list to go into five minutes of nonverbal gratitude every day.”

Nonverbal gratitude is right-brained. No words are necessary, just memories … Gratitude is the first step to building joy into our lives and help us experience a more consistent attachment to God.

Let’s practice:

  1. In quiet place, ask God to give you a memory that makes you feel grateful and connected to Him in that moment. Give it a two- to three-word title.
  2. Go back and relive the experience for a minute.
  3. What did you feel in your body? Maybe “peace” or “lightness” (it doesn’t matter as long as you feel something in your body).
  4. What might God be communicating to you through the memory?
  5. Compose a list of grateful memories and once a day, spend time with God residing in gratitude. 

Psalm 100 ESV

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.


Excerpt from The Other Half of Church by Michel Hendricks & Jim Wilder, p. 62-63.