During the days of 17-20 September, I was in Havana, Cuba to train 100+ men and women as sports chaplains. They were very hungry to learn and we spent two full days discussing how this role of ministry can be of greatest effect in Cuba. We wrapped up the training by praying for their Cuban and FCA ministry leaders, then commissioning them all into service as sports chaplains.
At the end of the trip we took a ride to the Jose Marti airport. My colleagues and friends, Eric Anderson, Alex Roque Martinez, and I were discussing the source of joy for people's lives. My contribution to the discussion, now expanded, follows.
It is my observation that the closer one is to death and dying, day to day, the simpler life is, and that life requires fewer entanglements to have joy in living.
Inversely, the more remote death seems to be, daily living requires more stuff to produce a sense of joy, and one's life becomes increasingly more complex.
When asked, "What brings joy to your life?" my friends from the USA usually trot out a list of creature comforts, foods, drinks, or electronic devices. Their daily existences require a massive amount of support, both emotional and electronic.
My friends in the more impoverished and daily perilous nations of the world simply say, "Jesus." Their relationships with the risen Lord supply all the joy necessary to navigate their precarious journeys through life with abundance in their souls.
As I have walked with USAmerican friends and family through battles with terminal disease and the immediate prospect of death, they begin to apprehend the simple and unencumbered joy experienced by our less prosperous global brothers and sisters. They too can reply, "Jesus", when asked about their source of life-giving joy and fulfillment.
Let us join them. Let's unclutter our lives. Let's protect and clarify our springs of joy. Let's reject every rival to Jesus' centrality as our soul's river of living water.