West Franklin Family,
“And on that day they (were) rejoicing because God had given them great joy. . . The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.” (Nehemiah 12:43)
I imagine a young child out in the field with his father. The boy is hoping his dad is ready to stop for the day. He’s wondering what momma is fixing for supper. He’s hot. He’s sweaty. He’s ready for the harvest season to be over. Suddenly he hears what sounds like a massive group of people yelling. It sounds to him like the time his parents took him to the arena to watch the games. Huge crowd. Yells. Shouts of victory. Cheering. He looks up at his dad. Dad hears it too. The yelling seems to be getting louder. Sounds like hundreds of people celebrating. The boy asks, “Dad, what is that? What’s going on?” Dad isn’t sure but he has an idea. “Son,” he says, “the Jews are back in their homeland. They are back from being banished to Babylon. I heard the wall around the city was almost completed. I guess what we’re hearing is that their God gave them favor again and they are celebrating His goodness to them.” They both pause to listen. Looking around, all the workers in the field have stopped to hear the distant commotion. After several minutes, the boy replies: “That must be some God they have. Jerusalem is several miles from here. They are really happy right now, aren’t they? What kind of God do they have?” “I’m not sure, son,” dad says, “but you’re right. That sounds like a lot of joy.”
Nehemiah tells us God had given His people great joy and the sound of their rejoicing could be heard from far away.
Two things jump out immediately. One, God gives His people great joy. Not “just” joy. “Great” joy. Two, the surrounding areas heard the rejoicing of God’s people . . . from far away. Not next town over. Far away.
Forces me to consider: What does Franklin hear from us? What do the surrounding neighborhoods and workplaces and restaurants and coffee shops hear from us? What does the internet hear from us? If people in our city overheard our conversations, would there ever be talk of the joy God is giving us? Would they ever overhear us sharing stories of what God did, or is doing? Would they eavesdrop and hear reports of God’s goodness to us, seeing an overwhelming sense of joy on our faces?
Here’s another question to consider: Is God giving you great joy? We can’t really report what He’s doing if we aren’t getting anything from Him can we?
I wonder sometimes if the reason Franklin might not overhear our rejoicing is because we aren’t seeking out how/where/when God is at work? Could it be that they overhear the same things from us as they do from everyone else because we are focused on the same things they are?
Does Franklin hear us arguing with those we disagree with?
Does Franklin hear anxiety and fear in our voices?
Does Franklin hear us voice our opinions about ridiculous things?
Does Franklin overhear us concerned about what our church is/isn’t doing regarding re-opening?
If someone listened in on our conversations with one another, would they ever pause to ask, ” Wow – what kind of God do they have?” Does the city of Franklin hear the sound of rejoicing from us?
We have a choice, West Franklin. Right now.
Are we going to be a people who looks for, obeys, and allows God to work in and around us – showing us His power and filling us with joy? Or, are we going to be a people who focus on what everyone else has set their mind on? To say it another way, “Are we going to look for what God is doing, step out and obey, and join Him? Or are we going to keep our head down and live as if God is ‘out there somewhere’?”
I know you. I know you want the city of Franklin to hear shouts of rejoicing from us because of the joy God is giving us. You want the little boy asking his dad, “What kind of God do they have?” For that to happen, we have to lift our eyes up, expect God to be at work, and eagerly join Him.
What if someone in a coffee shop interrupted you and said, “Excuse me, but could you say a bit more about that? Your God did that?”
What if a co-worker asked you where your joy came from?
What if a neighbor experienced the power of God because of your testimony of God’s goodness?
What if we saw baptism after baptism of those who were drawn to Jesus because of YOUR joy?
For this to happen, we have to be on the look out, available, and willing for Him to say and do what He desires to/in us. Joy is to be ours if we are willing.
What do you need Him to do that only He can do? What is He calling you to do that only He is able to fulfill? What area of your life do you most need Him to transform?
Would you pray, right now, for God to give us great joy? And let’s ask God to grant that our joy be heard from far away.
Longing for Franklin to Rejoice With Us,