God is such a good planner. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a Growth Group at our church. These are small group sessions that meet throughout the week, some at the church, others in people’s homes. I selected one that appealed to me, a study of Max Lucado’s book “The Applause of Heaven.” I was surprised and delighted to discover that this one would actually be meeting close to my home in Petal. Unusual because our church is located in Hattiesburg, not a long drive, but about 20-25 minutes from us, depending on traffic.
I knew I would be unable to attend the first couple of sessions, as we had this extended trip planned. Of course, I didn’t know that God had other plans. But, I’ve already encountered His hand, even though the first session hasn’t even met, nor have I met our growth group leader face to face. I know already that I’m going to love her, though. She’s reached out to all of us through e-mails, and sent me several personal messages that have been uplifting and encouraging.
I settled in this morning to begin reading the book, and it is balm to a troubled spirit. God knew exactly what I would need, when I would need it, and He provided. As He always does. I’m not even surprised, just humbled and thankful.
I’ve tried to make choosing joy a lifestyle in my adult life. I’ll admit I haven’t always done that, but as I’ve grown in spiritual wisdom, I’ve realized the importance of this in our lives. Joy is so much more durable than happiness. Happiness is fleeting. You can be having a wonderful day, full of fun things and people, be “secure” in your relationships and lifestyle, then look in the mirror and see how bad your hair looks, or that new wrinkle that wasn’t there last week and all the air lets out of your balloon. That’s how fleeting happiness is.
Joy, on the other hand, comes from someplace else. It comes from a deep connectedness with our Creator. He’s the only One who can provide it, and the only way you can get it. And, it’s easy to get, and it’s hard to get. It’s easy in that it is readily available, ours for the asking. It’s hard because our stubborn selves stand in the way. Too often, we think we’re just not the joyful type. So, guess what? We’re not. Our human nature after the fall of man is not the joyful type. Joy is something we choose.
Think of people that you know. Those who decide to be joyful carry it with them everywhere they go. They see God’s hand in every event, good and bad, and they search for the light in the darkness that He provides. Those who don’t make the choice to be joyful spend their lives in sadness and depression, never able to truly latch on to joy and allow God’s strength to flow through them and give them the ability to persevere. I know which one I want to be.
Update on Gary: We spent an easier night last night, both of us getting a little more rest. Gary’s pain is being managed, but of course, the medication they use is making him sleepy & a little loopy. Or, loopier than usual. As he & I work a little this morning, I keep looking at him and seeing him sitting upright in bed, computer in lap, and eyes closed in sleep. But, he’s fairly pain free and in a rested mood. They’ll be giving him PT shortly, though, so that will likely change. Thanks so much for your calls, texts, e-mails, messages, and, most of all, your prayers. Don’t stop now!
26 The gods of other nations are mere idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
27 Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and joy fill his dwelling.
28 O nations of the world, recognize the Lord,
recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong
1 Chronicles 16: 26-28