Thursday, June 14, 2018

Where is the Joy?


I'm having one of those days.

You know. The kind where I have a to-do list that needs tending to, but my active thoughts are in a completely different hemisphere. Do you ever have those days? The list looming, while the brain just wants to sit and ruminate on something the Lord has been speaking to you? And then you know you need to get it all written down because that same brain is capable of completely deleting the current revelations that won't let you go?

It's pretty bad for me today.

I went to grab a notepad off my desk to write down something the Holy Spirit has been whispering to me in my reading time for two days now, and the words I see at the top of the first page on the notepad read: In Christ. And so I think, "Sweet! The Lord is just waiting for me to write this down right on this very notepad" ...and then at second glance, I realize it actually says: Thin Crust.
Yep...it was the first line in a list I had written for ordering pizza for the family one night two weeks ago.

Yep...one of those days.

So, while the list has been made...not the pizza list, the to-do list...and the laundry is started, I want to tell you a bit about what God has been whispering to me. And while you might think, "why would I care what God is saying to you?" I think some of this is universal to us all. If you are having any kind of struggle with where God has you right now. If you are wondering what's next. If you are even thinking, "I would be so much more content if _________ happened." You might want to hear some of what God has been whispering. When He whispers, I tend to lean in...just a bit closer because I don't want to miss it.

Let me back up a bit...I believe it actually started with a dream. Now I don't dream very often, and when I do I don't tend to remember details...especially days after the dream occurs. So, when this happens I take note. Literally. I write it down in my journal. Yes, it might have just been indigestion from the pizza I had the night before or it could have just been from concerns of the day working themselves out in my dreams. But I write them down because every so often they are confirmed to have been a prompting or nudging or just flat out a message from the Holy Spirit.

So, bear with me as I share what I wrote in my journal that morning:
May 3, 2108. Thursday
 I had a dream last night that won't leave my thoughts.
Scene one: A man came to stay with us, but I somehow was not prepared. The room he was supposed to stay in looked pretty much like our toy room...a wall to wall mess! I was mortified! Rod (the hubs) was not happy. And the next thing that happens? I just walk away...apparently feeling powerless, not knowing what to do. I left Rod with the guest. 
Scene two: I was standing in front of a long rack of clothes looking for something appropriate to wear to a meeting I was to attend...church meeting? conference? I don't even know, but apparently, we were all going this event. So I picked out an outfit and shoes and put them on. 
Scene three: At the event, I meet with this man again, our guest. I think perhaps he was the speaker at the event, but I don't remember anything other than meeting him there.
Scene four:  Back at the house, apparently following the event.  I walked back into the guest room to find it immaculate. Everything had been picked up and put away. The hardwood floors were spotless (in real life our guest bedroom has carpeting and no toys on the floor). The small bed in the corner of the room had been neatly made (in real life we have a queen bed in the guest room). And suddenly I realized that the clothes that I had worn to the meeting/event were off somehow...like maybe they were inappropriate for the weather and I had two different shoes on. 
I know...weird, right?

In my journal, I had followed the dream by writing down a few thoughts:
 Is this just a random dream from my subconscious? Maybe about getting the house in order as we prepare for a possible move late summer or early fall? Worry about not being ready?
(Side note: we are currently renting so a move closer to the church would make so much more sense).
Or perhaps this is from God. Do I need to prepare for the next thing He has for me?
I really had no clue what it all meant. But I knew in writing it down that I would be able to return to it if need be, when...and if...the Lord began to confirm its meaning through other events.

Just 7 days later I wrote these words in my journal:
May 10, 2018. Thursday p.m. 
                       WHERE IS THE JOY?!? 

That was it. Just three words. I honestly don't even remember what happened to prompt me to write those words down, but apparently, at the time something had occurred that made me question God.

You see, in the past two years, I have had multiple people prophesy over me that God is going to restore my joy. I thought...what? I have joy! I'm not a 'joyless' person.  

And then it occurred to me... when I was younger I had so much more joy that it was evident to others around me.  My mama would tell me that I was such a happy little girl that I would go around singing all the time. In my teens, an older gentleman in the choir at my church nicknamed me Happy. Even my husband has told me that I don't sing around the house the way I used to. I realized that I'm not THAT joy-filled girl anymore. What happened?

A song is playing in my head. Cue the song, Where is the Love? sung by Roberta Flack. Only in my head, I am hearing the word love replaced with the word joy.


Where is the joy?
You said was mine all mine, 'till the end of time
Was it just a lie?
Where is the joy?
 I know ...I know! The rest of the song is totally inappropriate to my point. Still...it's on replay in my brain. And so I cry out with the words of the psalmist, "Restore to me the joy of my salvation!"

Sometimes,  life creeps in...disappointment, unmet expectation, family illness, death, you name it...bringing with it all the drama and trauma to destroy our boundless joy in the Lord. It can happen...and the boundless energy that joy brings is replaced with a 'tired' that just sits in your bones. You know what I mean? Even though we are relatively happy and still trusting in the goodness of God...that bone aching weariness can set in and steal our joy.  I was and am still...aching and waiting for my joy to be restored.

So you may be asking, "What does this have to do with what God is speaking to you? or What's with that weird dream?" And quite frankly, so am I!  But bear with me. The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. I think God is beginning to make some of this clear. And with what's not clear?  I'll just choose to trust Him with that.

I consulted with my daughter, who has a bit more wisdom and experience with prophetic dream interpretation and she said shoes indicate something about 'direction' in life...as in the direction of the path I am going, or the focus of that direction. Makes sense. In Ephesians, we read that shoes represent readiness.
And as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.                    ~Ephesians 6:15
Perhaps the mismatched shoes indicate more than one path and a struggle in knowing which direction to take. The whole scenario that played out in my dream seems to indicate that I'm at a crossroads in my life,  maybe even being pulled in two different directions or more. But I'm not ready to step forward yet...I'm not prepared for the next thing. But how do I prepare for something when I don't even know what I am preparing for?

After much contemplation over all of this, I heard from the Lord again, directly from His Word...
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. ~Ecclesiastes 9:10


Wow...this really resonated with me. Do what I can with what is in my hand. 

So I began to contemplate the question: What is in my hand?  

 Maybe this was the answer to the direction my life is to take and in taking this direction the Lord is going to restore my joy.


And what is in my hand?
  • Wife, mama, and Gigi (to two amazing grand-boys).
  • Caregiver to our mildly disabled son
  • A joint venture in a re-church plant with my husband as lead pastor, my daughter as Creative Arts Worship Pastor, son-in-law who volunteers as a youth sponsor and teacher, and my son joining in where he can be ministering in ways that only he can with the way God has woven the effects of his disability, the strong convictions of his faith, and his love for others together to touch the hearts of so many.
  • Overseeing and Co-leading a (small) women's ministry as well as leading a Propel Women Chapter.  
  • Years of experience as a Voice Teacher/Vocal Coach...currently using my gifts in this area as a vocalist and keyboardist with our worship team.
  • Writer/ blogger 
  • Teacher...more specifically a Bible Teacher, although I am not currently leading any Bible Studies...lest you think I am doing too much. 

But here's the thing. I still don't really know that I am to do something specific...a specific vocation, or ministry or just a specific new direction at this juncture in my life. I am still praying and asking for clarity. When I take a look at 'what is in my hand' I feel a tad bit overwhelmed, because it's not that I'm sitting around doing nothing, after all.

Still...it begs the question. Is there an assignment that I am missing or am I to be focusing on something that I am already doing...something that will restore the joy? 

Or maybe...just maybe, I'm already doing the doing that I am to be doing...I'm just missing the joy to be found in the waiting.  And we come back to joy...where is the joy? I know ultimately the answer is found in Christ. 

But...and there's that.  And that needs to be walked out. 

Oh...there's more...but I think this I need to stew on this a while longer. I hope you'll stick around as I walk this out.

In the meantime, I would love to know your thoughts on this subject. How would you answer these questions?
  • What's in your hand? List the things that are on your plate right now. 
  • What skills, giftings, or experiences can you add to that list?
  • Has God given you a specific assignment for this season in your life? 
  • Do you find joy in the daily grind? Or joy in spite of the daily grind? 
Let's continue the conversation. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.




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blessings,
Gay