Oh! The Joys I’ve Had

Dear Y.B.M.:

“Happiness depends on the happenings, but having joy does not depend on the circumstances. Joy comes from God and you better get some.”

I pray that you are not in any trouble.

I apologize for staying on trouble so long, but sometimes trouble comes double.

In my previous letter, I shared some of my mistakes, failures and troubles in hopes that you will not make them. Now, I want to share with you how God delivered me from fleeting happiness to permanent joy.Then, I want to share with you the three greatest joys of my life.

Up until December 19, 1979, at the age of nineteen, my happiness was dependent on what was happening. You know what I am talking about. You have been there. When I was a little boy, if the sun was shining and the sky was blue, I was happy; but if the clouds covered the sun and the day was overcast, I was sad. When I was playing football, I was happy; when I was made to go to choir rehearsal, I was sad. When I could stay at home and watch the Dallas Cowboys play, I was happy; when I had to go to church, I was sad. As I grew a little older, when I was drinking and partying, I was happy; the next day, I was sad. That was how I lived my life up until December 19, 1979, because on that memorable day I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour.

Now, remember that I told you earlier how I used to hate preachers and churches. Well, on that night, December 19, 1979, a young man, by the name of Michael Lewis, came to my dorm room on Kessler Air Force Base around 8:00 p.m., and showed me from the Bible how to truly be saved from hell. Even though I had been in church all of my life, this was the first time anyone took the time to show me from the Bible how to be saved from hell. I accepted Jesus Christ that night and God completely filled my life with joy—“A joy the world can’t take away.” I am telling you the truth. That joy has never left me since I accepted Christ as my Saviour. Every day has been and is a sunshiny day, as far as I am concerned. It is truly a “joy unspeakable.” The Lord will do the same thing for you as well. There is nothing like having God’s joy. It will beat happiness every time.

Since that time, God has added joy to joy. My three greatest joys in life are:

1. Knowing the Lord as Saviour, and my relationship with Him through prayer and through His eternal Word.

2. My family.There is no other place on God’s green earth where I would rather be than home with my family. I really mean that.

3. My third greatest joy in life is doing something that matters beyond my life span. Jesus gave me a purpose to live for, and that purpose is to serve Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and body. By the grace of God, by the time I was thirty-three, I had traveled around the world preaching the Gospel. I had also written several books and edited a Christian magazine.

It is my prayer that you will be a man who has the same joy in your life as I have in mine.

With “joy unspeakable”,


This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. – George Bernard Shaw

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. – Henry Nouwen

Joy is not in things; it is in us. – Richard Wagner

This chapter is an excerpt from my book, Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men: More Advice & Encouragement for a Difficult Journey. Click here to find out more or to purchase the book online.