The mornings go a lot like this:
"Lord--ah, can I not slosh coffee on my pajamas just one morning!--anyway, Lord, January is coming. Where are we going this year? What one word would you have me focus on and what verse will you give me for this year? Also, the 21 days of fasting are coming up...What--gulp--will you have me do?" *I won't be sharing that with you as I don't want to lose my reward. Things are supposed to be done in secret, ya know. I may have lost it already just by telling you that 21 days of fasting are coming up. SIGH. ;)
Lately, I've been smacking into "loving others" verses, posts, stories etc...so is it love? I mean I can always work on that. Is it love? Lord, is it? I need a sign!
One morning, early in December, I woke up and a word popped into my head.
Joy? Seriously, God? In case you haven't noticed, I'm a pretty jolly, joyful girl. Um...people tell me this all the time. Just last week, the cashier said I had the best smile. You did hear that, right?
My word can't be joy. I got the joy. Where? Down. Down deep in my heart. Deep in my heart to stay. And if the devil doesn't like it...he can sit on a tack. Sit on a tack to stay.
If my word is Joy, then I need a sign. A big fat sign because quite frankly, I want a better word. And though this doesn't sound joyous at the moment, I do have joy, Lord.
But wait!! Maybe joy isn't such a bad thing. This year You must be saying my contract is coming and therefore, Lord, I will have even more joy! And You're going to supernaturally heal my physical pains. Because this year has been the Valley of Weeping. Joy comes in the morning.
A silent moment. I call that the God-sigh.
Or what if this year isn't going to be a year of harvesting the fruit I've labored over and it's not the year for healing. Are you saying I'm going to have to have joy anyway? Or are worse things going to happen and I'll need that extra dab that'll do ya?
Oh for the love of...well...You, pick another word!
These are what my first several mornings looked like. Scary, huh? I know.
Okay God, whatever. If it's joy so be it. But I really, really need a sign. An obvious-no-doubt sign--just hanging out there.
That morning my husband and I went to see my son's talent show at school. We entered the office and stood waiting along with a bunch of other parents-- whose children couldn't hold a candle to my child's talent. I looked over by the door and there in the corner stood a toy soldier about my height. Yes, I put toy and my height together.
A tag hung--the string nearly invisible--off of his soldier's hat. In bold red letters it said:
Inside my head, I said, "Well, that's a sign hanging out of nowhere for sure. Joy it is.
On Sunday, during the morning service, guess what my pastor preached on? Yeah. Joy. Double dose of confirmation.
But what verses? And why Joy? Each morning I'd open the Bible and look down to see if God had directed me to the verse. He didn't. I entered "joy" into Bible Gateway and scrolled through them to see if one would jump out.
And then on December 21st, I woke up and took my iPad into the living room where I do my morning devotions. Each morning I read a John Piper sermon or article. I always feel like I've been fed to the brim afterwards. This day he shared this verse to this sermon (and here is the link if you want to read it for yourself--The Bible: Kindling for Christian Hedonism.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." Psalm 19:7-11
The word joy isn't found in these verses, but I knew the instant I read them it was the right verse. My insides started bubbling and tears sprang in my eyes. Then God began to give me a tiny break down of the verses.
Each statement has to do with the Word of God and what it does in a believer's life. And ultimately...it brings joy.
Another paragraph down, I read this. A third confirmation of my word.
"The Bible Kindles Joy
The reason David praised God with the words, "He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul," is because he had bad days. There were days when his soul needed to be restored. It's the same phrase used in Psalm 19:7—"the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul." Normal Christian life is a repeated process of restoration and renewal. Our joy is not static. It fluctuates with real life. It is as vulnerable to Satan's attacks as a Lebanese marine compound to a suicide bomber. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:24, "Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy," we should emphasize it this way: "We are workers with you for your joy." The preservation of our joy in God takes work. It is a fight. Our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, and he has an insatiable appetite to destroy one thing: the joy of faith."
Looks like this year, I'll be in the Word more than ever before. Join me as I study the precepts, commands, fear, the ways of God and ultimately joy. What are the differences between joy, happiness, and cheer? We'll look at those in depth through passages and lives of other believers in the Bible.
Joy isn't about what we get i.e contracts, agents, material possessions etc... Joy is so much more. So much better. And I can't wait to discover it all. Looking forward to 2013. Hope you'll hang around with me and discover it as well!
*Thank you to Melanie Moore for once again creating--for free--my one word. If you'd like her to create a one word button for you, check out her website and don't forget to give her a big thanks! HERE
Do you have a one word focus? If so, share in the comments. If not, what are some of your goals for this new year?