Sometimes the joy of the Lord eludes me. This has not always been a problem for me – only after I began to experience more of the trials and hardships of LIFE did I notice how hard it is to actually hold onto joy. The admonition in James 1:2 is my lofty goal, but it seems impossible most of the time: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
Last Saturday was one of those days when joy seemed a million miles away. We’re over halfway through the summer vacation, and the kids are starting to get bored. Bored children are dangerous children. They tend to occupy themselves with activities that are less than desirable. What starts with a lot of giggling usually ends with fighting, then tattling and whining. There are approximately 23.7 fights per day.
And then there are the demands! Just when you think you’ve gotten everyone settled and served at the dinner table and now it’s your turn to get something to eat, someone asks for an apple to be peeled (and please cut the skin off too). As your stomach rumbles with hunger, you must make a conscious decision to prepare that apple without slamming the refrigerator door shut. And you must resist the temptation to declare (with flames shooting out of your nostrils), “No! Do it yourself! It’s MY turn to eat!” Even amidst that temptation, I somehow always hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit admonishing me to be a selfless example of servanthood.
After passing that test of willpower and tongue-taming, along comes another – the house is eerily quiet when suddenly you hear the sound of water hitting the bathroom floor, and a little voice starts to call, “Moooooommmmmm!!!!!!” The toilet is overflowing, and the water is spilling out so quickly that it’s already reached the carpet in the hallway. This is the ultimate test. Do you scream out of anger, “What are you DOING?!?! I can’t believe this!”? Or do you calmly and quietly turn off the water, grab the plunger, and then spend the next 20 minutes soaking the water up with towels (WITHOUT complaining)?
Fortunately for me, that night after I had begrudgingly endured those tests, I found myself with friends at a large worship service. By then, I was completely spent. And I just knew that with my poor attitude, the Lord would have plenty to say to me. But it wasn’t the harsh scolding I was expecting. He reached right through the scriptures and spoke directly to a very specific part of my life – and He encouraged me.
Then, as we all stood to sing one last song together, I decided to close my eyes and focus on His presence. I could almost feel the Holy Spirit filling that room, like a gentle breeze. And then, in my mind’s eye, I could actually see Jesus there. Where was He, you ask? He was everywhere. I saw Him over there, sitting next to a crying woman with His arm around her, comforting her. He was over here, standing in front of an obstinate man, lovingly reaching out to offer His hand. He was there, with His own face lifted toward Heaven, singing to God at the top of His lungs. He was kneeling at the altar, petitioning the Father beside one of His redeemed. And He was there, right next to me.
Jesus REFRESHED me.
God in my living
There in my breathing
God in my waking
God in my sleeping
God in my resting
There in my working
God in my thinking
God in my speaking
Be my everything