Where am I…why?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

This morning I attended a Zoom training provided by my district for ministers/pastors. The District Executive opened by reading the scripture noted above. She preface the reading by saying she had heard several people expressing their concern over knowing what God’s will was/is for their lives. “God’s will is plainly stated in scripture.” And then she read the all too familiar verse.

There are other scriptures that make God’s will and expectations clearly and plainly known. We’re the ones who get all Gideon (see Judges 6:36-40) and keep asking God to make is unmistakably clear before we will act—only delaying the obvious out of fear or selfishness.

One example from the Old Testament, Micah 6:8 begins with the prophet asking the question he already knows the answer to: What does God require of you but to do the right thing (act justly), be kind (love mercy), and walk humbly with your God (author’s interpretation).

At one point in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he was asked a young man what one thing needed to be done to inherit eternal life. He did well on the keeping the standards of the day (teachings of the Law and prophets), so Jesus challenged him, nudged him toward greater growth: go and sell everything you have and give the money to those with need. This was too much for him, and he went away sad. Jesus seemed to be telling him that he can’t claim an eternal reward when the temporal needs of those here are so massively obvious, and we can do something about it. There will be no riches taken into heaven, so invest them here in those with need.

But I digress…

When Kris read the scripture Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, I began to weep. I have been here caring for my mom for nearly two years. Two years away from my husband and family. Two years away from the job that is my calling. Two years separated from friends. Two years feeling like I’m wandering in the desert and looking for the Promised Land.

Honestly, I find myself resentful and angry, depressed and discouraged. I cannot count the times I have cried out to God, “Why am I here? Why now? How long? When will I get on with life?” I know that I am needed here. But why do I need to be here?

I have taught on numerous occasions from the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes that God wastes nothing. So my head knows and believes that even this time when I am not where I want to be, doing what I want to do, will not be wasted by God.

Only I can choose to waste this time.

Can I just tell you that awareness sucks? I haven’t been living joyfully, prayerfully, or thankfully. Maybe on the surface…but not deep within. Not where it counts.

So…I have a couple of choices. Now that I know what God’s will, intention for my life, is: I can go away sad and unchanged because it’s too much to ask; or I can determine to live more fully and actively into God’s expectation and will for me and trust that the opportunities to live out my calling will present themselves—perhaps in ways I never imagined or even knew could be for me.

I think I’ll choose the latter. Because I’ve walked the route of the former and it is an unfulfilling, lonely, and futile path…and I was made for more than that.

And so were you.

Let’s get our rejoicing on, our prayerlife going, and our gratitude overflowing. Perfect season to be thinking, moving and growing this way.

Wednesday’s Word: Rejoice!

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James instructs us to “count it all joy!” (James 1:3)

Jesus told his followers: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33, NLT).”

The world may feel like it’s falling apart, but maybe it’s really just falling into place.

Encouraging Words: JOY!

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Today begins Encouraging Word Wednesdays. I recently threw it out on the Facebook universe to all my friends to give me an encouraging word that began with the first letter of their first name. I learned several things, the most obvious one: I have a lot of friends whose names begin with the letter J.

Today we begin with JOY!

Several years ago, I was working on a Spiritual Gifts Inventory, and I was challenged to ask others what they perceived my gifts to be. One very wise friend, shared that while it doesn’t typically appear as a traditional gift, she believed I have the gift of joy. To my surprise, others confirmed her assessment.

I found this quite humbling…and challenging.

I believe I am wired to find the positive in situations and people. Because of this I have been labeled naive and a Pollyanna. To my consistent surprise, my ability to find the best  causes frustration and consternation in many who can’t. My husband often questions why I always go “there.” I can’t not.

Lately, I’ve been looking up the meanings of words before I use them. I want to be sure I’m using them correctly. So, I looked up joy, and then I looked up rejoice. They define one another.

In the Bible Dictionary I found this: “Believers rejoice (are full of joy) because God has surrounded them with his steadfast love (see Psalm 32:10-11).”

James, quoted in the meme above, paints a beautiful and challenging picture of joy. “Count it all joy” can be better understood as the choice to accept everything that comes our way as an opportunity for growth and good. And “ALL” of it is reason for joy—to rejoice—because wherever we find ourselves we also find the steadfast, never-ending, never-failing love of God.

Find JOY today.