Farmers’ Market: The Love that Is Joy

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John 15:9–11 (NIV)

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now abide in my love. If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

CONSIDER THIS

Welcome to the Farmers’ Market.

When Cousin Lee and I reached the age of twelve, it was time to start our own farm. Peepaw, master gardener that he was, steered us into a small vegetable farming operation: cabbage, onions, and radishes came first. Then came the squash, eggplant, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Every Saturday morning found us at the city of Dumas Farmers’ Market, right next to the railroad tracks on Main Street. There we were, bright and early, spreading out our vegetable haul across the tailgate of Peepaw’s 1978 Ford Bronco (three on the tree) half cab. If only we had that truck now! The patrons loved our vegetables. Though it may have had something to do with our bringing the average age of the vendors down by thirty years, we assured ourselves it was our superior products! 

There’s nothing like fresh vegetables at the Farmers’ Market, is there? Me and Lee were doing farm-to-table before it was a thing. (And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Meemaw would endlessly correct me on that— “It’s Lee and I,” she would make me repeat aloud every time.) 

The fruit of the Spirit is love. And the supernatural fruit of love looks like joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let’s begin with joy. It is one of the earliest childhood church songs I remember. I’ll bet you do too. Sing it with me.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. 
WHERE?!
Down in my heart!
WHERE?!
Down in my heart!
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
WHERE?!
Down in my heart to stay!

Notice how Jesus makes the shift in John 15 from abiding to love to joy. Rarely does Jesus tell us so explicitly why he has told us something. He does so here. 

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 

Notice, not just some garden variety joy, but my joy. And notice why—so that your joy may be complete. Let yourself try to fathom this, being filled with the “My joy of Jesus” and your joy being complete. This is not flimsy and ephemeral emotion. This is the durable, unflappable “joy of heaven, to earth come down.” 

And let’s be clear. Joy does not mean happy times. In fact, the greatest joy comes in the most unhappy times; in the midst of fiery trials.1 Joy is not optimism. It is not a can-do spirit. It is not positive thinking. It can look like the denial of reality only because it is witnessing to the much deeper reality of the abiding, presencing, perfecting love of Jesus. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2–4)

Wake up, sleeper! The next time you are facing something impossible, something utterly devastating, an unspeakable loss, get as close to the ground as you can and whisper your welcome of Jesus to bring his joy to bear in you. This will be love, the fruit of the Spirit. 

THE PRAYER

Father Farmer God, make of my life a farmers’ market. Make of the garden of my inmost being a place of the joyful fruit bearing of love. I want to be so captured by the love of God that it becomes, in me, instinctive, impulsive, compulsive, and compelling—governed by your Spirit. Train me to joy in everything because I joy in you. Come, Holy Spirit, bear the fruit of your presence in me. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen. 

THE QUESTION

What is your faith concerning joy? What is your experience? How or what are you being led to yield to Jesus? What might be constricting the flow of joy in you? Is your joy complete? What are you waiting for? 

THE HYMN (We sing on the Recording)

Today we will sing the hymn, “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” on page #8 of our newly released Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. 

For the Awakening,

J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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NOTES FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

  1. James exhorts us to “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds.” Pure is not a throw away word. When circumstantial happiness is a million miles away, the joy becomes purified and even palpable. Joy is unexplainable. It doesn’t make sense given the nature of the struggle. And like fear, joy is contagious. It is infectious and irresistible. And it is not something we can conjure up. Joy shreds our thin optimism which can so often be a counterfeit expression of mere human strength. 
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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Because pure joy is fruit of the Spirit, our “farmers markets “ are the doors of opportunity that God opens to share this fruit in ministry to others. For me personally, it’s the opportunity to share it with those who are shut-ins at a local nursing home. Being a blessing to these brothers and sisters in Christ allow my joy to be complete. These places can become prisons of darkness without the love of Jesus being expressed there.

  2. Joy is complete in Christ. Period. Our joy is in Jesus’ promises, our faith in Him, not shot-gun faith but laser faith in Christ. Our joy is being obedient to Him in all circumstances. Our joy comes from trusting Christ when we can’t trust ourselves. Our joy is found in His love for us. Joy without Jesus is a roller-coaster, circumstantial happiness at best.
    Learning to become more like the One.

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