Joy is about what will one day be.
DECEMBER 3, 2020
Zach Van Dyke:
Joy is about what will one day be. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We are here to communicate the freeing truth that God’s not mad at his children. Zach Van Dyke is the teaching pastor at Summit Church here in Orlando. And he’s been teaching us all this week. If you’ve discovered that just trying harder, doesn’t make you better, welcome to the party.
Zach Van Dyke:
Thanks Matthew. Well, here we are. We’re at the end of the week. We’re well into Advent at this point. I hope that as we have talked about hope in the midst of hopelessness this week, that it’s really helped bring some stuff up for you, to bring before God. Yesterday, we spent a little bit of time talking about how God is so ready to hear from us, so much more ready to hear from us than we often are to pray. And especially when it comes with this idea of hopelessness, because it feels like as Christians, we should be all about hope. Like that shouldn’t be a struggle, but what’s so beautiful about God’s word, and in particular about the way Luke begins his Gospel, the way Luke begins the story of salvation, the story of Jesus, the story of God coming and rescuing us, he begins the story in a place of hopelessness. I mean, for 400 years God has been silent. God has not said anything to his people. And in 400 years, even the most pious of us would start to doubt, I think. I think even the most pious of us would think, well, maybe we messed it up too bad. Maybe God has abandoned us. Maybe God has left. And so it’s in that context that, that Luke begins his Gospel story and he actually begins it with two people who on the outside look so religious. I mean, you’ve got Zechariah, this priest, you’ve got Elizabeth, this, this woman who, who just exuded godliness, so much so that Luke lets us know they were both very godly people, but yet they had spent most of their life suffering because of infertility and in that culture, to not be able to have a child was seen as a disgrace, it was seen even as punishment from God. And so these two very godly people, went through a lifetime of feeling judged and less than, and I’m sure wondering what they had done to bring this on. Initially I said, Zechariah was still doing all the right things. He was still showing up at the temple. He was still doing his job. He was still praying. In fact, he was praying still for a child, even in his old age, that was still part of his prayer life, because when the angel appears to him and says, you’re going to have a son. He says your prayer has been heard. Your prayer has been answered, but he’s been praying these things and he’s been doing these religious things. And on the outside, he looked like a man full of hope. But I think he was a man who was struggling deeply with hopelessness. And the reason being, the way he responded, when the angel came and said, the Lord has heard your prayer, Zechariah’s response gives him away. He says,
How can I be sure of this? I am an old man. And my wife is well along in years.
He prayed for the very things that he ended up doubting God could do. Yes, he still prayed. Yes, he still went through the motions, but inside Zechariah was a man who had lost hope. Yesterday, as we were wrapping up, I talked about the movie Inside Out, Disney movie, Pixar movie. It’s a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, you should see it. But what I find so fascinating about that, that movie is that the child in the movie that you’re kind of following her emotional life, you’re seeing inside her brain. At the center of her emotional life is joy. There’s all these other emotions, there’s anger and there’s fear and there’s sadness and there’s just discust, but joy, Joy’s the one in the driver’s seat. But when you see inside her parents, you see that anger is in the driver’s seat of her dad and sadness is in the driver’s seat of her mom. And I think the point that the filmmakers are trying to make, is that as we grow up, as we experience pain in our life, it’s just too hard to allow joy to be the center. We’re just too disappointed, we think by keeping joy in the center, we’re going to just be more disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped. And joy is defined in Webster’s dictionary as
The passion or emotion excited by the expectation of good.
Joy is about what will one day be. I remember when I was eight years old, I auditioned for the, for the musical Oliver and it was my first real audition. And it wasn’t, it was like a real play. It wasn’t like a church play or a school play. It was like a real play with a real theater. You know, it was, it was a big deal and listen, I was not going in expecting to get the part of Oliver, but I kept getting called back for Oliver. In fact, it got down to three of us. And they were casting two boys to play Oliver, and I couldn’t believe it, but I’ll tell you, by the time I got to the end of the audition process, I wanted Oliver. I had to have Oliver. I had to be Oliver. In fact, Oliver is what God had in mind when he thought me up.
“Please sa, I won’t some mo.”
See, I was born for that role, right? Yeah, you know, and I remember waiting by the phone the day after that final audition, just sitting there, by the Mickey Mouse phone in my playroom. See, I told you I’ve been a Disney guy since birth. And I was sitting by that phone and I can still hear the kindness in the director’s voice, as she told me, how excited she was for me to be one of the orphans and possibly have a line. A line! I went from being the one for whom the show was named after to orphan number three. Now as embarrassing as this is to admit, ever since that phone call, I have tried really hard to not want anything too much, not to get my hopes up, to live a life of forbidden joy as Brene Brown has called it a life that’s characterized by the belief, that if there is joy, it is only a matter of time before that joy goes away. See joy is rooted in hope. Joy is about what will one day be. When we stop hoping we lose joy as our center. I even remember when I was going through the interview process at the church that I now serve, you know, it was going great, every door we just kept walking through and I was like, this feels like what God’s calling me to. And I remember when they asked me to dinner to offer me the job, they asked the whole family to come to dinner, to offer me the job. But I had so convinced myself that they had invited me and my whole family to dinner so that they could tell me in front of my children. Thanks, but no thanks. That silly phone call about all Oliver was the moment joy lost its position at the center of my emotions. And ever since then, I have battled with not wanting to hope for things, so that I would not be disappointed. Do you know when that moment was for you?, when you went from being a child to being a grownup? My three-year-old right now, Huck, he loves Peter Pan. I mean, absolutely, I mean every day, we have to turn on Peter Pan. I mean, he watches it every single day. He watches it multiple times every single day. And whenever we go out and play, we find sticks in the yard and he wants to play Captain Hook and Peter Pan. And, it hit me just yesterday, that one day he’ll realize he’s never gonna fly. And I hate that, one day, he’ll realize. Do you know when that moment was for you? When you went from being a child to a grownup, where fear took over and you began worrying about what will be lost, or anger took over, anger took over because you’re just fed up with all the blocked goals you’ve encountered, or the way that, that things have gone, where they just don’t seem fair. Or when sadness took over, because nothing is the way you thought it would be. Or disgust, when did disgust take over, you continually choose sarcasm and cynicism as a form of protection from feeling disappointment. You see, I think it’s significant that Jesus told us in order to see things as they really are, in order to understand him and the kingdom that he is bringing about. We need to be like little children. We need childlike faith, joy needs to be at the emotional center of our being, Zechariah was doing all the religious things, but he had lost his childlike faith.
How can I be sure of this?
I’m an old man and my wife is well along in years.
Listen, we can’t go back to the, to the naivete of our youth. We can’t, un-see horrible things. We can’t erase experiences of disappointment and loss. We can’t undo our sins and the sins done against us. So what do we do? We believe God. We choose trust. We believe he is pursuing us. We, like children, believe the impossible again. Jesus once said.
With man, it is impossible, but not with God. With God all things are possible.
Seems like Zechariah’s consequence for not believing was a little extreme, remember he couldn’t speak until his son was born. But think about it. The power he was denying would be so central to the Gospel. If God could not give Zechariah’s wife the power to conceive, how could God raise Jesus from the grave, the power of the resurrection was in question. Maybe this Christmas season, we can start hoping again. We can start hoping again, because we know it’s all about grace.
Thank you Zach. Of course, that was Pastor Zach Van Dyke wrapping up his week long series on hope at Christmas. If you missed any episodes, make sure you visit us at the new keylife.org there you can not only listen to those episodes, you can also find the transcripts as well. Next week, Steve will resume his exploration of Galatians, but first, he’ll be back tomorrow with our friend Pete Alwinson for Friday Q & A. And that’s when they answer challenging questions that listeners have sent in. And in case you’ve been waiting for the invitation. Well, here it is. If you have a question you’d like Steve and Pete to answer, please do send it in. I’ll give you the email to use in just a moment. Well, as you may know, Steve is sometimes a grump when it comes to the Christmas season, and yet the Christmas episode of Steve Brown Etc. is often the best one of the year. That’s why we’re making last year’s episode available on CD for free, worth the price of admission, just to hear Steve read the Christmas Story. Get your copy right now by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also email your request to Steve@keylife.org. By mail, write us at
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