ODJ: Best Prom Ever

March 2, 2016 

READ: Deuteronomy 16:13-17 

This festival will be a time of great joy for all (v.15).

When Tom Carlisle told his parents he didn’t want to attend his high school’s prom (formal dance), they understood. Tom is a young man with special needs, and he knew he wouldn’t be comfortable in that social setting.

So Tom’s parents contacted high school teacher Renne Wyman. She set in motion what would become the “Best Prom Ever”—an event for teens and adults with disabilities. Fifteen people attended that first event. The next prom had 80. Every year, the number increased with the most recent event having more than 900 in attendance!

Workers and volunteers echo a similar theme—joy! “You have to see it to believe it,” volunteer Skip Meyer emphasizes. “People can’t stop smiling.”

God ordained parties—festivals He called them—for His people to celebrate. One of those parties was called the Festival of Shelters. “You must celebrate this festival to honor the Lord your God,” Moses told the people. “This festival will be a time of great joy for all” (Deuteronomy 16:15).

How is it that God commanded joy? We can’t manufacture joy; it can only erupt spontaneously out of the depth of our being. Joy grows out of a life of giving and receiving, of loving and being loved. It’s the natural result of living as God designed us to live: working for Him, serving and caring for each other, laughing and crying together.

God’s instructions to His people were designed to enhance genuine community and make for a “happy time” (v.14). But joy doesn’t happen because of the party. The party happens because of the joy He gives.

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Joshua 5:13–6:27

In Revelation 19:4-9, the apostle John tells us that the end of time will culminate in a wedding feast. What does this tell us about God? 
When was the last time you sensed real joy? What does it mean to experience God’s joy?