Nehemiah 8:10–Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
How refreshing to think I don’t have to fight to be strong. It’s the joy of the Lord that gives me strength. Of course, being an overachiever, I worked for years to make myself be joyful in the Lord in order to make myself strong. Sigh.
While it is true that being joyful in the Lord, meaning we’re joyful because He has saved us, gives us strength, what if there’s another way of looking at this verse? What if we don’t have to be joyful right now, in this season, in order to be strong? What if we can be strong by resting in the knowledge that even now, when everything seems to be a swirl of angst, bad attitudes, grief and pain, He is joyful? What if what’s happening around me hasn’t totally ruined God’s day? If He is still on the throne, in control, working things out to the best possible end? Maybe that’s where true strength lies. Not in my ability to be strong enough or happy enough. In His joy. In His ability to not be blown about by circumstances, thrown into despair or depression. It doesn’t depend on me; it depends on Him continuing to be, well, Him. He is joyful enough, strong enough, faithful enough. If I can remember that, I can be strong.
I’ve decided to start a blog for the Life of Bob. I’ve got ideas for him exploding all over the walls, so decided it was warranted. If you’ve enjoyed the first two episodes of the Life of Bob, head over to https://lifeofbobblog.wordpress.com/. (As of this writing there are already four episodes.) You can also follow Bob for (nearly) daily updates on Twitter. Search for @lifeofbob_, or visit his Twitter page here: https://twitter.com/lifeofbob_ . Bob and I have plans for a busy, busy year…
The first day of Bob’s vacation it snowed. It snowed a lot! Fortunately, Bob loves the snow. Bob declared this would be the winter of Bob! Then Bob made a snow angel.
This is Bob.
Bob lives in an average, middle class house in America. He has an average, middle class job. Bob likes his job. He works hard! Sometimes, Bob needs to take a vacation from all that work.
COMING SOON: The Winter of Bob
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.” Mark 4:26-27
This is my pet avocado seed. Well, it used to be a seed. Now it’s a tree. Yes, a teeny tiny baby tree, but that’s still a tree. It’s one of 9 I have on my kitchen counter. Seeds, not trees. Each time I’ve made guacamole this year I’ve tried to get the seeds to grow. This is the third one that started to grow, but the first one to do more than start a root. I’m very proud of my tree. Three months of watching, watering, changing water, rinsing off mold that tries to grow on the shell. That’s some dedication! And yet. I have no idea why this one became a tree and the earlier attempts stayed seeds. Just like the Kingdom of God. Hmmm….
I find this an encouraging passage. It’s easy to be in a season of need, whether that be greater health, finances, relationships, whatever, and to begin to fret if I’ve done enough to make it happen. Have I prayed enough? Have I studied scripture enough? Have I reached out to enough people? Worked enough hours??? The reality is, it’s all about God. I can do everything within my power, but until God breathes life into the situation, it ain’t happenin’. So today I will relax and slow down the frantic, fearful thoughts. Today I will accept that I can only do what I can do, and I will trust God to make up the difference in His season. In His time.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.- Philippians 4:8
Beauty is fascinating.
It is everywhere, yet elusive.
In the midst of people behaving badly, where chaos presses in on every side, beauty can be hard to find.
This is part of what drives my artistic decisions.
The need to find peace.
The need for a happy place to dwell.
Today I’m grateful that beauty always exists.
That it is there, waiting. Waiting to be that reminder that God is still in charge and has an amazing plan. It drives me to my camera to find the still small place where beauty exists. Where the promises of God still shine. And in that place, as I encounter who He is, the Great Artist and Creator, I remember who I am.
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Eagles know how to git ‘er done. They migrate along specific mountain ridges because of thermals, air currents that rise due to warmer air at the base of the mountains. These natural air currents give the birds extra lift, allowing the birds to fly with less effort and making their long distance trips possible. I want to be like that. I want to allow myself the freedom to rest in the presence of the Lord (wait on Him) so that this race I am running is made easier. I want to be caught up in the flow that is God instead of fighting gravity on my own in the lowlands. It’s beautiful and amazing that He offers us this.
Corey Russell, a Bible teacher, said this week, “Christ has made you His dwelling place-the question this week is-will you make Him YOUR dwelling place?” I’d like to say yes, but in all honesty, I’m still working on it. It would be easy to say yes because I’ve been a Christian for almost 40 years, but reality is reality. So far my answer can only be “I’m trying.” What a blessing to know that in God’s book, that counts. He doesn’t call us to perfection, but to try. We do our best, and it counts. He doesn’t require of us perfection, even though I tried my hardest to attain it.
Today, as everything I touch seems to implode on impact, I’m glad to know that my weak attempt at faithfulness, because it’s the best I can do right now, is enough.
Luke 2:10-11-Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
“Good tidings of great joy”… What a beautiful phrase. And its a phrase with a promise. A promise that something is about to happen that will change everything. Suffering and pain will be washed away and replaced with great joy. In spite of the pain, loss, grief, abuse, and chaos the world throws at us, the day is coming where we will experience this Great Joy that was released into the universe when Christ was born. Sure, sometimes the waiting is agonizing, but in the end, we will say it was worth it. He is worth it.
Merry Christmas, dear reader.
John 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
“Should not abide in darkness”. What a beautiful promise. Whatever else is going on around me, I have a fully notarized invitation to live in the light, where peace and beauty are the rule and not the exception. I have been given the dignity of getting to choose whether to stumble through the darkness and chaos of the world or to put my faith in Jesus and walk in his light. Today, I choose his light. I’m so grateful it’s really that simple!