Joy. We know it when we see it. What is it about those who are genuinely joyful? The ones with big, "legit" smiles and hearty pats on the back to greet us - those with life-giving words of encouragement perpetually on their lips? We all want to be joyful, and we all enjoy being around others who are joyful, but joy can seem elusive lately as we enter week eight of quarantine life.
In our series, Freshly Squeezed, the main question we’ve been wrestling with is, “What comes out when you’re squeezed by life’s circumstances?” We’re learning that the Fruit of the Spirit, joy being one of them, cannot be mustered up or manufactured. We caught up with one of the most joyful people we know, Scotty Cramolini, to glean how the Holy Spirit is at work producing a kind of joy that overflows from him to others, even as he’s squeezed during this time just like the rest of us.
Scotty abides in God, staying connected to Him daily, by reading his Bible and praying. He describes his prayers as “simply chatting with God.” He said, “I talk to God all day long in an informal way. He’s my best friend who is always by my side. I talk to Him about anything and everything: challenges and joys alike.” Scotty has been praying and reading the Bible since he was in Junior High. He said, “This foundation has guided me all my life in my connection with the Lord Jesus.”
Scotty has found that two main things have helped him cooperate with the Holy Spirit as joy is produced in him:
1. Beginning Every Day with God. For Scotty, this is stepping outside, looking around, and thanking God for another day to live for Him and others. That quiet time, even if for only 5 minutes, gives him God’s perspective and sets him up for his day. No matter what is ahead of him, he can take it head-on with Jesus by his side.
2. Practicing Gratitude. Scotty believes gratitude is the best form of worship to God. He says, “I worship Him for who He is, thanking Him for so many blessings, instead of focusing on what I lack or what's coming against me. This shifts my perspective.” Salvation is on the top of Scotty’s gratitude list. He said, “Just reflecting on the fact that I was able to hear about Jesus from an early age (9 years old ) and have Him in my life all this time is a gift for which I can never thank God enough.” He added, “When you realize how much Christ has done for you, you can't be anything but grateful, and therefore, joyful- it’s inevitable.”
Even though Scotty is joyful, this time of navigating COVID-19 has not been easy. He said, “Being the social person I am, it’s difficult not being able to spend time with my friends, go to church, nor attend various club gatherings I enjoyed. However, the ‘stay at home’ order has forced me to slow down and look at priorities differently. I enjoy the ‘One Minute Word of Encouragement' that VMC provides; I look forward to them every morning.”
When asked if he had any closing thoughts on joy, Scotty said, “When you have that joy that the Holy Spirit gives, SHARE it with others. So many folks out there don't have any joy and are starving for it. And for Pete’s sake, when they ask you why you have it, make sure you tell them about Jesus!” Amen.