“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus…” Acts 20:24
“I often think how sad we shall be at the end, if we have failed in joy.” I have quoted these words of Amy Carmichael many times. I’m so glad I learned early in my Christian life how important joy is, and best of all, how accessible it is. Jesus told His disciples in John fifteen that one of the main reasons He spent time teaching them was so that His (Jesus’s) joy might “remain” in them (v. 11); and manifest itself continually as their own.
I’ve made a personal study of joy for many years now, knowing God meant for me to have it. In fact, it’s been the very source of my spiritual strength (Neh. 8:10). Paul told the elders of Ephesus at his leave-taking from them (chap. 20) that now, as he faced what would, in all probability, be his final glimpse of them on this earth that his great desire was to “finish [his] course with joy.” When I re-read this recently, my prayer to God was, “That’s what I want too, Lord. We’ve walked together in joy for over sixty years now; I don’t want to “fail in joy” now at the end.”
Paul spoke one other time abut finishing his “course.” This time to his young Timothy (2 Tim. 4:6 & 7). “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” And my reference verse at the top tells us just how to finish our course with joy: Don’t hang onto life. And have you noticed, as I have, the older we get, the less this world seems worth hanging onto? Good-byes may be hard here; but Hello’s are so sweet there. And, O, there are far more of the latter than the former! In fact, dear ones, as we used to sing when I was a young girl, “We’ll never say ‘Good-bye’” in Heaven; we’ll never say ‘Good-bye.’” For in that land of joy and song, we’ll never say, ‘Good-bye.’” By God’s grace, there’ll be joy all the way Home…for me and for you!