If the joy of the Lord is our strength, I’ve been thinking joy is a worthy goal to pursue. Have you noticed how when you’re happy, you aren’t easily tempted? Temptation doesn’t look as good when you’re happy, but it seems irresistible if you’re miserable. John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, calls joy a spiritual discipline.

So I’ve started asking myself, “What am I longing for? What’s missing?” Often, I get a couple knee-jerk answers first. Things like, “If I could just get all my errands run,” or, “If I could pay for thus and such.” If I sit with the question a little longer, an answer will surface from deeper inside me. “I want to sit and read to my kids.” Ahh…that’s it.

I want to feel close to my kids.

That desire shows me that I need to come home before I’ve run one more errand so I have time to read on the couch. Later, when my head hits the pillow, I check in again and guess what? I’m satisfied. It filled up my heart when he propped his feet on my lap and she asked to share my blanket. Joy.

And joy keeps giving. When there’s a funny part of a book, and something reminds us of it later, one of us will bring it up and we all laugh. More joy. When I laugh with people I love, I know God is near us. To laugh in the face of a sin-invaded land is purely miraculous. So, as holidays approach with long to do lists, I suggest we put joy at the top.