So, last post I mentioned that my word for the year was CELEBRATE! Not just Celebrate, but do it with Joyful Anticipation. Within a week or so of getting ‘my word for 2012’, we got an unexpected phone call.
“I need to let you know about dad, he well, he died actually,” said the emotional cracking voice of my sister-in-law.
I reeled back and lost my breath. He was fine at Christmas. I braced myself to tell my husband the words he would not be expecting and that would forever change his life. I immediately flashed back to the evening in 1985 when my sister showed up unexpectedly at my dorm room door with the same sentence.
Celebrate? Joy? Would there be Joy again anytime soon. Brian left shortly after to go pick up the pieces in Ohio, while I held down the fort at home until we could get out to meet-up with him for the funeral.
In my office sat the angel with the CELEBRATE Placard. Really Lord? Celebrate? Joy?
I purposed to look for opportunities to celebrate during those days from phone call to burial. We celebrated a life that would be missed. We celebrated an unexpected snow fall that brought a calmness over the house as we reveled in its beauty. We celebrated the opportunity to bless others by giving away some of my father-in-laws clothing to someone who knew and loved him, and needed the gift. I celebrated the time with my family. I discovered that if I looked for it, celebration was there. I didn’t JOYFULLY Anticipate a moment of it; but we did Celebrate.
It made me wonder where the JOY part was to come in. I found John 12:22 that said,
“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
Watching others grieve, it made me realize that the only SOURCE of Joy has to be God – because he is unchanging.
I thought of Paul and Silas when they were bound and chained in prison. They sang praises because their JOY was NOT in their circumstance their joy was in the Lord. They trusted the Lord to take care of them and help them through their trials and he did just that.
The morning of the funeral I was really down. I felt joyless. In a few hours, I would have to watch my husband participate in the funeral for his father, his golfing buddy, his confidant. Brian had become an adult and was able to develop that tender relationship between adult sons and fathers. When I lost my dad, I lost a dad. I was really too young to have called him more than Father. This loss was a double whammy.
Spirit broken and dreading the next few hours, I tried to pray. I wanted to be an example of a Godly wife, mother, and believer. I called out to God. Then I found my MP3 player and began to listen to worship music. My heart began to sing and my joy in the Eternal God was renewed.
A worshipping heart can drive out despair and give us joy. If we have joy we have hope. If we have hope we can pray. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” I sought that filling and He answered.
Since then, there’s been two more funerals, death of a loved horse, countless cancer diagnoses in my friends, and a near fatal car accident involving the son of a friend. Each time, I looked at that CELEBRATE! angel and sought joy the only place I could find it.
Joy is truly found in God’s presence. While getting there can be tough, there is cause for celebration when our hearts collide with HIS.
“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11
Point to Ponder: Where can you connect with your creator to find JOY?