I don’t know how I remember this, but when we lived in Bowling Green, Ohio, I was eight years old when I went to Vacation Bible School at Plain Congregational Church. That summer, I learned an acronym I haven’t forgotten 30+ years later: J.O.Y. – (J)esus, first; (O)thers, second; (Y)ou, last. I always took it to mean, “back of the line, back of the bus, back of the room, back of the class, if you wanna chance at being happy.” Lately, after hearing “Joy to the World,” on my Christmas playlist, I’ve been thinking about that acronym.  Yes, Jesus comes first. It’s biblical. As a matter of fact, it’s so biblical it’s in the Top Ten of all times, eternally holding first place: “You shall have no other gods before me.” As a matter of fact, the second is biblical too: “regard others as more important than yourselves.” I am a visual learner and love illustrations, metaphors, parallels and props (like Jesus, with figs, sticks, sheep). Instead of thinking of this acronym as some exclusive natural order where only the doormats, spineless, weak or boneless have a chance for joy, I’ve had a radical change in visual!  Several years ago, my friends dared me to stick my face in a chocolate fountain. I did. Selfishly benefiting from all the sugary goodness in my (literal) face.  Yea. And that’s my new visual for J.O.Y. You see, God pours amazing stuff from the tippy-top of His throne in Heaven, onto His Son Jesus, first. Then, trickling to the second tier for everyone I serve and put before me. But then? It trickles to the bottom tier–the biggest tier–containing, absorbing, even overflowing with this amazing goodness of his glory. So is it good to put Jesus first and others second and us last? It depends on how we see it. But this week, seeing it this way truly is bringing joy to the world…and me. I hope this encourages someone.


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