When I think over the past week, the word that continually comes to mind is JOY.
But at them mention of Joy, I feel that doesn’t do it justice. It’s more of an overflowing of peace meets a dawning of contentment. There is joy to be found everywhere, sometimes you just have to go looking for it.
That’s not to say life here is not hard. That life anywhere is not hard. Should not be hard. It is, because this place is not our home. And so often, so consistently we are reminded of this truth. When you sit in Bible study and your friends talk about their friends who have passed away this week, or nearby children who no one cared enough. It breaks my heart every time. No these things urge us to feel uncomfortable. Because the very moment I find myself feeling comfortable on this Earth, red dirt of Uganda or rolling plains of Auburn, I become dependent on only myself. And hard things prove the sovereignty of a greater God than our human minds could ever dream up.
In the cracks of despair, and the shambles of brokeness, there is joy. In the hopelessness, there is joy. Because in a more intricately weaved plan, God is still God, and he is still sovereign.
Today. I was sitting doing read-aloud and got started talking about a family back home who is beyond close to my heart and also to the girl’s mother. Two years ago they adopted this girl named Josie who had a multitude of illnesses that presented her with an extremely dark and hopeless future. In the process of adoption, Josie stayed with this family some and the girls I was reading aloud with began telling me stories of how she would always fall off the chair and eat her dinner before everyone else sat down and they erupted into rounds of laughter. I did too because sometimes, back home she still eats her Macaroni before we can say the blessing. And finally one piped up and said, “Anna Bliss does she walk now?” She does. She does walk, actually she runs everywhere and talks your ear off and smiles at you with the most joyful, loving smile and wraps her little kindergarten palms, that now cut and color and write her name and fingerpaint, around your face. And little tears welled in my eyes because its a little glimpse into both sides of the story and God’s grace.
How there is Joy in His sovereignty. Its in her smile.
And that’s why it is unspeakable joy. Things that shouldn’t make us smile, do. Because it’s like a little peek into Jesus face. Or a glimpse into the work He is doing and of all to come. A shard of glory falling fresh for us to pick up and observe and hold tightly to when we are awakened that this place is not our home. Hold tightly so we can remember that His sovereignty in the hard is just a fraction of what is to come, and the way the joy leaves us speechless draws us to expectations of how he will be sovereign again tomorrow. To be comfortable here is settling. Be uncomfortable. Always seeking, always searching for joy.
Week four: Joy. In the dead rat in the closet and the lizards on the wall. The g-nuts again for the 3rd time this week for lunch but they make me laugh!! When someone pees on the floor on accident or spills their milk, or you don’t have any breakfast food. You just have to laugh sometimes, all the time. Walking home with the cows from school. The sun peeking in between the clothes line. Little hands that raise their hands in praise. Tile floor. Chocolate milkshakes. Little Eric. Or when you have a headache for 48 hours and the swell of laughter might make your head burst. The dog that thinks I’m his owner. The baby in the tattered silk dress. The neighbor kids who greet me every morning saying “How ah you? How ah you? Fine.” The littlest one is always naked and straggling, he makes me smile because he so badly wants to talk but is so very shy. The too cold shower that is just what I need, glad there is water at all. The guessing game of food. Always. Christy Nockels on repeat. Baby’s breath with hazelnut. Walking to Bible study on a starlit night with the cornstalks’ shillouttes dancing in the moonlight. Driving a car for the first time, swerving to avoid potholes, and in swerving, directly hitting all the potholes anyway. Little ballerinas at a dance recital. Cinnamon rolls. Baking pizza dough and failing. Cinnamon pull apart bread. Long walks by the river, so untamed. Times tables and pink plastic watches. Cats in the tree. Teenagers that make me laugh, and teach me more about patience and grace. Little baby eyes that make contact with yours. Eating mangos under the wide open, cloudless blue sky.
This week I asked for strength. That would not come from myself, I was drained from being sick. Or an restful beach trip, or a good home cooked meal from Mom. Teaching is not my thing, so I asked that for this moment in time, it be a source of Joy. And it came. Joy from Jesus is supernatural and leaves you reliant on Him. Dependent. It is addictive that no other artificial or synthetic vice can suffice or compare to deep rooted, Joy springing forth from a Savior. In a moment of seriousness, a bout of wide-eyed, breathless laughter is just the remedy to bring Joy to every moment. And to catch a glimpse of Him in the midst of working all things for His good. A reminder to not feel comfortable here.
“There may be pain in the night, but Joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
“Do not grieve, for the Joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
“You must be on your guard. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:9-13 (Paraphrased)