There is much in our world to suggest that nobody cares. That was my first thought while walking over to the supermarket first thing this morning when I looked down at the weeds growing by the curb and the litter carelessly dropped there. But then I rounded the corner where the row of bungalows and their carefully tended gardens painted a different picture.img_4679
Walking back from the supermarket leaves were blowing everywhere and I realised that I have never caught a falling leaf. And suddenly the falling leaves brought joy to my heart. I can’t explain it – they just did. For a moment I was sad that it took leaves blowing in an autumnal wind to remind me to smile. And then I grinned like an idiot all the way home as I thanked God for beautiful skies, falling leaves, well-tended gardens, and many other things. How easy it is to get caught up in the troubles of life and our lives and forget to praise our Maker. This morning He used leaves to remind me that He never leaves my side.img_4680
Later in the day my wife Marilyn and I and our daughter Beth had coffee and shared toasted sandwiches in Costa before putting Beth on the train back to Birmingham. Costa was particularly busy and yet every visible staff member seemed to be smiling. Perhaps they had encountered falling leaves on the way to work that morning? Their joy made us feel welcome. That is but one reason why joy is so important. Joy is infectious but so often absent. I was left wondering about how folk at church would compare with the Costa staff if rated on a scale designed to measure joy?img_4682
Returning home Marilyn and I walked across to the supermarket again for various supplies. In one aisle a small child was using a pillar to play hide and seek with his father. Both were laughing. And once again I was reminded about the need for joy not only in our lives, but for joy to be evident on our faces. Every picture paints a story so they say. What story is your face telling? What story is your church telling?

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)