God In My Soul

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart

down in my heart, down in my heart,

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart,

down in my heart to stay.

Most everyone who grew up Baptist knows these words, and how to sing them. It’s one of several I learned at a very young age – catchy tunes, easy to remember words, and lots of clapping when sung in a group. Here are a few more:

Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me…

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, to shine for him each day…

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…

Such songs get the toes tapping and the body swaying. Most every child who sings them does so with gusto. It’s only when we gain a few  more years on the planet that these songs embarrass us as being overly simplistic; even worse, they represent a bait-and-switch – the unconditional love that they offered suddenly gone, replaced with a moral measuring stick and a fear that any little mistake might be cause for our names to be erased from God’s book of life.

I’ve gained enough years on the planet to realize that these songs, taken the right way, are simple expressions of an abiding trust in Jesus. The bait-and-switch wasn’t God’s move, just the misplaced actions of people who thought unconditional love couldn’t be real or sufficient. Instead, they got out the moral ruler, marked it with do’s and don’ts, then whacked people on the knuckles if they couldn’t measure up.

These days, when God in my soul arises in my prayers, it’s a request that God give me the strength, patience, and love to see in everyone a holy and beloved child. God in my soul – an absolute necessity if I am to refrain from grabbing my own moral yardstick.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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