Summary: In Part 3 of this series we examine what it will take to have a joy that is full. This is the joy that God desires for us to have - but do we really want it bad enough to do what it takes to get it?
The Power of Joy – Part 3
A Joy That Is Full
Last week a program was aired about the race riots that took place in my hometown of Columbia, Tennessee 75 years ago. The book, “No More Social Lynchings” by Robert Ikard also detailed the events of the riot and the roles played by the individuals involved. As a child growing up, we would hear bits and pieces of information about the riots and we knew that we had family members who were very much involved. So, as I watched the program, I experienced the emotions that one should expect to feel as I viewed life for Black Americans in a southern town before the civil rights movement – disgust, anger and a feeling of helplessness. But the program also contained, at least for me personally, a very strong, positive and uplifting component. I mentioned earlier that I had family who were very much involved in the riots. My grandfather and his brother, who were both carpenters and Baptist ministers, heard about the mounting crisis at the beginning of the riots from their brother Albert. This caused alarm for them because my Great-Uncle Calvin’s wife was the first cousin of a man who had been lynched in 1933 and had vowed there would never be another lynching in Maury County as long as he lived. Their involvement, initially and throughout the ordeal, were as men of faith whose primary goal was to bring an end to the rioting. They had sought common ground between the leaders in the black community and the white civic leaders that would put an end to the violent confrontations that led to destruction of property, primarily in the black community. However, this changed when they were arrested as they attempted to rescue their nephew from the hot zone after a shooting. They would be charged with twenty-three other men of attempted murder. They were charged with 23 other men with attempted murder. While they were acquitted after more than a year in jail, it took a lot of people like Thurgood Marshall who represented them on behalf of the NAACP and the former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt who worked to raise money for their defense, working on their behalf. The title of the program, “Reconciliation to Revitalization: The 75th Anniversary of the Columbia Race Riots” I believe, recognizes their roles as reconcilers throughout the ordeal.
Now, let me tell you why I am beginning today’s message with this part of my family history. As I was growing up, each one of my brothers and sisters understood the name Lockridge was held in regards by the folks in the black community and also by many whites. My grandfather was John Raymond Lockridge and my great uncle was Calvin Lockridge. Whenever we would hear bits and pieces of the story, it always gave us a sense of pride to know that we had family who played a pivotal role in paving the way for the life we were living at the time. And the people in the community knew that we were “Lockridges,” not Johnsons, but Lockridges. While the recognition made us smile, it was also a reminder of what my grandfather and great uncle had done for the black community. To this day, the Lockridge name is still known and respected and when I think about that, I think about how blessed and happy I am to be a descendant of two men who played a role in laying the foundation for the Columbia, Tennessee that we see today. I understand the personal stake my grandfather and great uncle had in the riots. My Aunt Faye (my grand-father’s daughter) told me that my grand-father did not like beans or bologna sandwiches as a result of being in jail for a year after the riot because this is primarily what they were served. My grand-father and great-uncle could have easily left the jail as bitter men who hated whites, but that was not the Spirit that lived within them. They were able to maintain their joy and had an eternal security and peace in that dreadful situation. They understood whose they were and they did not walk away from believing God’s Word even though, like so many, they could have easily done so. Their arrest impacted their family who suffered because of their lack of income, but the community rallied around them. This morning I want to you ask yourself, if you had been falsely jailed for over a year and forced to eat beans and bologna sandwiches, day in and day out, could you maintain your joy?
What I have just shared with you so far this morning is similar to what God did for us through His Son Jesus. What do I mean? Everything Jesus did – how He lived as a son of God and the sacrifices He was willing to make for us and our eternal futures – are reasons for us to have joy. What Jesus did in the past paved the way for the lives we can live today through Him and the eternity future we have because of Him. It’s similar to what my grandfather and great uncle did so that we could have a happier childhood in Columbia. And like Jesus, what they did before I was born paved the way for the type of childhood I would have later. As I thought about this and the two-part message on “The Power of Joy,” a passage came to mind that showed me another aspect of joy from God’s perspective.