Joy must be experienced

Here’s the crazy thing. I’m using words to explain something that’s non-verbal. I’m talking about joy. Our “joy center” or joy receptor, if you will, resides in the right side of our brain (technically, the right orbital prefrontal cortex), which is the non-verbal part. Words may lead us to joy, but joy itself can only be experienced. 

Where we experience joy, where our brain thinks about what is “me,” is not formed at birth. This part of the brain gets developed during the first 24 months of the baby’s bonding process as the mother bonds with the child through smell, taste, temperature regulation, touch, visual, voice tone, which are all non-verbal. As Dr. Wilder said in his lecture “Developing Joy Strength“:

“All of this is interpreted on the right side of the brain. And words are interpreted on the left side of the brain. If you’ve ever heard someone say to you, “It wasn’t what you said but the tone of your voice…”, what they are saying is that our voice tone didn’t make them feel that you were glad to be with them. Bonding is based on voice tone (or sparkle in our eye), not on words.  This is the only thing that motivates children under one year old. This is the difference between the left and right brain interpretation.”

You’ve probably heard about studies done concluding that most communication is non-verbal. The popular figure quoted is that 93% of communication is non-verbal. Regardless of the actual number, these studies, along with our understanding of where joy effects the brain, made me think about how God usually communicates with me. It’s usually a split-second impression of inspiration which I will attempt to put words to afterward, oftentimes very inadequately.

So, I wonder, did God actually download words into my verbal left-brain or did He simply impress something in my right-brain “joy center” and I attempted to use words to describe the experience after the fact? I would say upon reflection that the latter oftentimes seems more true. Now, I believe God can use actual words to communicate with us, but I think the deepest and most inspirational things are non-verbal because our identity and joy centers are much deeper and non-verbal in nature (more on that next time).  As the psalmist tells us….

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)

This is also why the Bible text cannot simply be read to be properly understood. We must undergo Scripture. In other words, we let the Bible study us by applying it to our hearts which is brings about revelation and leads to our transformation.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor.4:6 NKJV)

So, my point is this: joy must be experienced. You will not know the fullness of joy and pleasure found in the presence of the Lord unless you’ve actually opened your heart to the possibility and pursued it until it becomes your experience. As Paul said, it’s with the heart one believes. It’s only afterward that we use words to confess what we already know to be true.

10 The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth gives thanks to salvation. (Rom.10:10 TPT)

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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9 Responses to Joy must be experienced

  1. Lovely, Mel. The bible must be experienced and The Word is actually a person. Love how pastors sometimes say, “do you receive it?” What does it mean to “receive it?” Are you subjectively experiencing what I am saying? Are you taking this in and relating to it in a personal way?

    Laughing here,but I have no luck when I try to cook something by following a recipe. It always turns out kind of flat and boring, it is just missing something. Ahhh, but turn me loose in the kitchen and I can make things that just taste like love. It really makes no sense in a logical context, but it’s true.

    • Mel Wild says:

      LOL! That’s the way my middle son is. He has always thrown away the instructions to anything he’s ever operated and made up his own thing. He’s a pretty good cook, too. He’s about as right-brain as they come. But cooking is another good analogy. You won’t know what a recipe does to your taste buds by reading the cook book. The food must be experienced. 🙂

    • Well howdy do… This goes well with a thought I had written in an older Bible I had shelved many years ago. I pulled it out this morning and was reading from John 1. I had written, “To be in the Word of God is to be in God’s presence.” There are many people who know the word of God but do not have a relationship with the Word of God (Jesus).

      It’s like IB’s cooking by recipe. It’s all flat until we throw in the love…

  2. I mean no disrespect, but I am so happy to see you back to your old teachings. I had gotten tired of the back and forth with the “You-know-who’s.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      I totally understand. I’ve grown weary with these people who are not open and only want to argue about what they don’t understand. I did feel like I was supposed to take this detour, if you will, and the adventure was worthwhile for me because now I understand where these anti-Christians and “angry ex’s” are coming from. And after two years, as I said in my “farewell” post, their arguments have been measured, weighed in the balance, and found wanting. 🙂 It would be a total waste of time for me to continue. What’s sad to me is that Christians can actually be talked out of their relationship with Christ with these vacuous arguments. Makes me wonder how strong their relationship was to begin with. But anyway, time to move on to better things.

      So, yes, talking about our relationship with God is much more interesting and fulfilling. Thanks Patrick! Blessings.

      • I totally understand. My path seems to have taken me back down the road on end time prophecy. I had put it aside for about ten years but it is as if the Lord has resurrected the interest.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yeah, I taught on End-Time prophecy for about seven years pretty intensely. I can give just about every version of eschatology with equal fervor! LOL! It’s been a few years and I prefer to focus on the relational aspects of Christianity now.

      • Running the Race says:

        I agree with Patrick completely here, I am also glad you are back. I know what the detour is like because I too was on the same one.

        I would argue that people can be talked out of their faith by the arguments of those you interacted with. That is simply not possible. Their arguments are so tiresome and so well refuted in so many places, the only people who believe even a shred are those who are on the fence and those who are already disbelievers.

        Don’t want to belabor that but would like to say again that i am glad you are back.

        Good post here.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I think my “detour” proves your point. I also totally agree with you about their tiresome and vacuous arguments. Apologetic discourse is never going to convince some who’s not open to it, nothing will. However, I do think it’s important to offer for those who are open to the truth and for those who are getting bullied by these trolls. So, I have a category on my blog that people can peruse if they are open to it.

          Now, on to more interesting subjects. 🙂

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