After days of pondering joy, grasping for joy, giving thanks, loving the Lord… my eyes popped open this morning with a wild, frenzied discontentment of life.
I closed my eyes again and grasped. I gaped with heart wide open and eyes closed tight for joy. I wrestled. Like Jacob, I refused to let go until I saw His gifts, His grace.
My eyes opened with wrestling and I thanked Him for trees. And the pup’s solid deep breaths beside me. My heart bowed low and I thanked Him for the sun shining through my window and the opportunity to get up. The opportunity at life.
I smiled. Joy. Joy unwrapped as gifts of grace all around me.
I continued thanking Him as I got out of bed, put my feet on the ground, put a coat on, took Watson out. Walking as if we’re best friends, hand in hand, we lingered around green pushes with red berries and looked up into grey skies with golden streaks. We lived. Breathed. Truly grasped each gift as each sense felt it. The cool air in my lungs and the rude awakening I experienced as my exhaled dragon smoke-like breath into the crisp, cold air around me.
A smile. Once more. Graces. Gifts. Named and noticed. Given and received. Graces received, thanks given, Joy blooming like flowers in a dead field of grass. Like I see before me on this hard ground. That is what joy feels like today.
It feels difficult. Strained. It takes discipline and practice. In the hard moments when I don’t know how life for those around me can ever feel peace, when I feel so hopeless for them, when i wonder when God will swoop down and capture hearts. When I call upon the Hound of Heaven with heavy heart and empty hands.
The wild, strangled feeling of discontentment returns every now and again.
I should be doing more.
My life should be filled hard, difficult, straining work for His glory…It should be poured out for His gospel!
Why do I feel so alone? Why do I feel so useless? I like feeling used and useful.
God gives God, says Ann Voskamp in her book i’ve been reading and pondering, That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God.
And I hold onto that truth. It echoes and thunders within me, because He is all I need. He knows my needs. He sees, He knows, He provides. My sweet, sweet Savior.
My life is filled with hard, difficult, straining work of reaching for joy. What a gift. A gift of reaching, stretching, and fighting to grasp the gifts He’s given. Seeing every day sensations and experiences as His graces.
Heavy heart for a tortured soul? His grace.
The pain I feel at being apart from family and at times seeing nephews grow through pictures? His grace.
Being separated from a friend for His glory? His grace.
The difficult moments when loneliness seems to sear my soul? His sweet grace.
Graces are easy to find and so hard to receive. Our hands must be open to the hard graces of His giving and His taking away. Our hearts must be open to His revealing and His showing us when we’re wrong. The pain of being wrong and ashamed is His grace of not leaving us how we are.
“…for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in” Prov 3:12
Open your hearts, my friends. Repent, find His grace and give your thanks. Receive His joy.
The most difficult, rewarding thing you will ever do.
The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.
I’ve been learning a lot about joy through Ann Voskamp and the Word of God. If you would like to read her book “One Thousand Gifts”, hit me up, and I’ll show/lend/give you a copy.