Monday, November 16, 2009

Fullness of Joy

photograph by my niece, Anna Sherrick

This afternoon I finished reading to the children our current read-aloud book -- Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John. This is a book that I had read aloud to the older children more than a decade ago, but it was new to the younger half. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around! This book is a real treasure, and excellent for a family read-aloud.

I want to share two of my favorite passages from the book. The first is from page 48, when Elaine first learns of the concept of "fullness of joy."

"My thoughts wandered immediately, for I was not trying to listen. I kept repeating over to myself the words I had seen in the churchyard - 'fullness of joy . . . fullness of joy.'

I felt that these words were the heart of some tremendous secret, and perhaps the missing words were the key. In where, or in what, could fullness of joy be found? Nothing I had ever known in my dull, lonely little life, and yet something I was crying out to know. And as I stood there, forgetful of everything, but longing, something happened. The sun pierced the mists outside, and the church was suddenly filled with
a golden glory, transfiguring the stained windows, streaming on the bright heads and snowy surplices of Peter and the other choir boys, making stars in Frances's wondering eyes and warming and blessing us all. Everyone lifted their faces in solemn amazement at this miracle of sunlight, and I glanced at Janet. She was standing with her head thrown back, singing at the top of her voice.

Just for a moment, I thought I knew what fullness of joy must be like.  It would transfigure everything, even the ugly things, and make all the dull, ordinary things precious and beautiful."

Here is the second passage, which is found near the end of the book, on page 161, and illustrates the transformation of Elaine's character after she discovered the source of true joy.

"I stood thinking deeply. Yes, I said I'd go back and take my Bible.  If I failed, she'd never believe that the Bible made any difference to anyone. I stared again at that inviting little path, and it reminded me of my special verse: 'Thou wilt show me the path of life . . . in thy presence is fullness of joy.' And suddenly I knew very clearly that path He was showing me that afternoon, not the path that led down to the cool, dancing river, but the one that led back over the uplands to Phillipa, the path of self-denial and kindness and keeping one's promises. That was where I should find Him. 'I was sick and ye visited me,' and 'In Thy presence is fullness of joy' . . . Yet I was not really as unhappy as I thought I would be. I think it was the first time in my life I had given up doing something I minded about for the sake of someone else, and it was a strange, rather pleasant feeling."

It is a thought-provoking book. I wonder -- is my life characterized by "fullness of joy?" What about yours?

Psalm 16:11 -- "Thou wilt show me the path of life:
in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."


Rebecca's Refining said...

Love the picture!! :)
A great reminder! I may have to get that sounds like it would be a great one to read. I find that too often my life is not characterized by joy, and yet it should be - all the time! "In Thy presence is fulness of joy.." It is living with that constant awareness of the presence of God, and communing with Him that enables us to have that joy! Thus, when I am not "feeling" joyful, guess what the problem is?! Thanks for reflecting my thoughts upon the Lord this morning! Love you!!

Cheaper by the Baker's Dozen said...

How in the world do you have time to read aloud to the kids anymore?
School is crowding out all our fun stuff (except the fun stuff that is related to school...and there is some of that.)

We have a whole week off for thanksgiving and I definitely plan on reading to my kids. I'm going to check out the book you recommended. It sounds lovely (and reminds me of my homeschooling days, er....years!)

busymomof10 said...


We certainly don't have time to read aloud like we used to! It is one of those things that I refuse to let go of completely, so we still do what we can. I usually try to read aloud while the children eat and clean up from lunch, and sometimes while they fold laundry. I wish I had time to read more. There are so many things that have gone by the wayside --- like a clean and organized house! I bet you still cling to that one! :)

6blessings said...

I find myself reading the same books again to my "youngers" too. However, I think I read more books to the "olders". I'm being pulled in more directions these days.

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