Monday, February 22, 2016

Finding JOY

I have been thinking about writing this post for quite some time but honestly haven't wanted to write it. However, God continued to push me with His gentle whispers to share what's been in my heart. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. He knew I needed to write this to encourage myself as well as others.

The last few months have been difficult. I have felt an array of emotions almost daily ranging from grief to anger to joy. I have felt sadness as sweet friends have moved away (with more to come), taking pieces of my heart with them. Anger and frustration have risen up as we deal with disobedience and meltdowns in my sweet youngest child who is struggling to find her place in a new family and country while missing those she loved fiercely for the first four years of her life and left behind in China. Stress and fear have raised their ugly heads as I strive for excellence in all my roles from follower of Christ to wife, mom, and teacher. Concern has danced through our home as we watch loved ones struggle with cancer. Joy has never left. It has always been at heart of our home, but lately its voice has been somewhat stifled.  

So, there's been a lot on my mind, and many times, I let the sadness, anger, and stress pull my focus from God and get lost in the tumult of winds and rain. When my eyes are on the storm around me, I so easily forget, like Peter, to look at my one and only source of refuge, strength, and JOY.   

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31, NIV)

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

Instead, of looking around as the storm clouds roll in, I should choose Jesus and the

JOY only He can bring in that circumstance!  

Joy is found in the face of my Savior.  

Joy is found in the sacrifice He made for me.

Joy is found in spending forever with Him.

Joy is in found when I remember that He allowed us, His broken followers, to adopt three precious treasures.

Joy is found in the love my kids have for each other and us.  

Joy is found in even the smallest things like the sound of the garage door opening, signaling the return of my husband at the end of a long day.  

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Thess. 5:16-18, NIV)

It's all a matter of focus. Finding joy in every circumstance is not easy, not by a long shot, but the good news is, I don't have to do it myself. I can let go and let God work. All I have to do is acknowledge my weakness and look at Him.  

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  
Look at the situations I mentioned above. How could I turn the focus around? My dear friends are missed but instead could I thank God for the time we had together and the fact that in this digital age, they are just a text away? When disobedience rears up in my children or I feel stress about being the perfect parent, could I instead thank God for the simple fact that I am a parent after all those years of infertility? Could I thank God that I have a job I love?   

Oswald Chambers said, "Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides."

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