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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why We "Shout for Joy"

Last night, at choir practice I shared a story to highlight the Christian's reason for why we "shout for joy.":

Imagine that you are in an old Hollywoood western. But, instead of being a good guy, you're one of the bad guys.
You tried to rob a bank. The bank teller made you nervous. Your hand jerked and the gun went off. You've been apprehended, tried, and condemned to death.
As you sit in jail, awaiting your execution, you go through all the usual rationalizations. You really didn't intend to shoot the bank teller. It's just that you needed the money badly. You've lost your job. You have to feed your wife and kids. What else could you do?
But now it's the morning of your execution.
The sheriff arrives. You hear the turn of the iron key in the lock. The jail door swings open. You are escorted out of the jail and into the cruel,white morning.
Crowds of spectators jeer and insult you.
You look up and see the gallows, the hangman, the noose.
You put your foot on the first step of the scaffold. As you mount the steps, your legs turn to jello. Your mouth is dry and your heart pounds. Your gut sickens at the horror of your impending violent death.
When you reach the top, the judge turns to you and says, "Do you have any last words before we execute justice?"
You can't speak. Terror wraps around your throat. You shake your head.
The hangman ties your hands behind your back. The noose is slipped around your neck.
Your life flashes before your eyes and you are filled with regret. Too late.
You wonder for the last time what death will be like. Will it be oblivion? Or will it be the terrible everlasting punishment your Sunday school teacher told you about when you were just a kid?
The hangman fits a black cloth over your head. Your breath puffs the fabric in and out. You take your last big breath.
And then. . .
And then. . .
"Wait!" Someone shouts. You hear footsteps. "Don't pull that lever. The governor has just signed a reprieve. This man is free!"
The cloth is whipped from your face. Bright sunshine greets you.
Free! I'm free! I don't have to die!
Where seconds before dread and despair filled your mind, now joy makes your limbs strong. Your shackles are removed and you rush toward freedom, down the gallows steps, across the town square, into the arms of your weeping wife. You shout with triumph.

Wouldn't you shout, too?
Sometimes I think we Christians only half realize that we all have been granted a reprieve. The gallows was our fate, just like that murderer.
Let's shout for joy! We don't have to die. We're free. Free!

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."(Col.2:14)


  1. Thanks for this provocative post, Dena. My heart was racing at your description of the pending execution. Coincidentally, I've been thinking this week how blase we Christians can become about our redemption. May we never take for granted the freedom we have through Christ's sacrifice.

  2. Thanks, Nancy. Our choir's thought for the year is "sing a new song." We need to think about His mercy and grace every day and give Him "shouts of praise."