You know that feeling, the feeling that you just do not want to go but you feel guilty if you don’t. Obligation to a friend who is counting on you weighs in heavy. We put our coats on and braved the outdoors. We could have said no. We could have stayed home but maybe there was a purpose beyond obligation tugging at our souls. Maybe a longing deep inside that drew us into the darkness.
Florescent lit room barely heated. It is our weekly meeting at an old building that is neither warm nor inviting. It is the people that keep us coming. The family that is bound to us by the love of Christ. I get off the couch and make my way to the microphone to sing the songs that we are preparing for our street preaching in Nashville. Singing always fills my heart with joy, so my cold and tired body felt alive again.
As we were singing, a young man walked in. He had an unusual spring in his step. He was tall, lanky, and full of energy. After our song we sat down and he stood up to tell us what he felt called to tell us. It was about joy. He was throwing his arms up into the air with a smile on his face, bouncing back and forth as he shared account after account of the souls he was winning the week before. Only 24 years old, this young man, named Zadok, did more in a week than most of us do in a lifetime for spreading the joy of the gospel to others.
He had a holster on his belt and from the front it looks like he is carrying a pistol. Turn it to the side and you can see the leather is the size of a bible. The kids asked him what that was and he said, “The sheath of my sword. A weapon of mass distraction against the enemy I call the devil!” He pulled out the old tattered bible from his homemade leather pouch and began to open the pages and read to us the life giving truths.
He begged us to read our bibles. He pleaded with us to choose joy. His way of explaining anything was what I would describe as explosive joy! I have never seen anyone that on fire before. One would think he was just saved, but he said he did not lose his joy like so many Christians do. The pains of this world, the rejection, the disappointments that distract, discourage, and render us powerless, has not gotten a hold of him in his 10 years of new life in Christ. It was at that moment that I knew that the devil was defeated on our behalf. We were supposed to be there. The feelings of being dragged out of my home that cold evening were replaced with purpose. I knew it was God's will for us to hear what this man had to say.
Joy is just as contagious as fear or scornful disdain. As I watched Zadok’s fire and passion for Christ, it made me realize so many things about my own life story. I realized that I have had that same explosive joy like a fire in my heart to have it snuffed out by the cares of this world time and time again. I took courage because I know that no matter how many times I have been beat down, I still rose again. The times I felt the life drain from me, as though left for dead, I still could hear that still small voice calling me to pick myself from the ground. I wave my feeble hand holding that little white flag of surrender. I have been in the trenches I know pain and sorrow. I have not had life come easy but I rejoice in that. I rejoice that God is working in my heart character, strength, unshakable faith, and purest joy. It is those times that you know that God is real, when he miraculously wakes you from a slumber of soul.
Life is hard. It is not a bed of roses. Joy is a choice. The devil wants to keep us down and joy is a weapon. Even someone who looks like they should be enjoying the fulfillment of the riches they possess. If they are not thankful for those possessions, they are no better. They can’t take their riches with them. They know that deep down. The first ingredient of joy is gratitude. The cure for ungratefulness, which is sin, is blessing others. Turn our ATTITUDE to GRATITUDE.
Did you know what the will of God is for your life?
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
Scripture tells you. In Every THING give thanks. That is God’s will for our lives, strangely. Can you possibly give thanks for pain? or grief? or when someone reviles you? I know that is the hardest time to be thankful. But if we trust the scripture, then we know that it is God’s will for us to thank Him in even those times. It comes with a promise, so take heart, dear one…
Romans 8:28 - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose."
What a comfort. I have lived long enough to see that God works ALL THINGS together for our good. Things are not always as they seem. Soon we see the purpose in all things.
It is said that we become an average of the 10 people we are around the most. Who are you surrounded by? Discontented Christians who go through the motions? Are you surrounded by negativity? Are you around people who have joy? Are they thankful?
I was influenced by Zadok. I took every peace of his joy and stored it in my heart. At the end of the evening, he lined us all up and he prayed for each of us and blessed us one by one. When he came to Mark and I, he did not split us up, he blessed us as one flesh. What a gift. What a breath of fresh sweet air. God has a special purpose on all our lives to be a beacon of joy and gladness. We can be a light on a mantle for all to see. We can be unashamed of Christ, share his glorious freedom with all the slaves of darkness. Like Zadok. It is not just for him. It is for anyone who dares to be different.
I went home and decided, I am going to be a blessing. I want to be a beacon of joy and gladness in my own home. The next morning, I woke up extra early because I wanted to be a blessing to my family. I made a egg bake, some banana nut muffins, and a fruit salad. Every peace of my heart went into that feast. A feast of Thanksgiving. As I slowly prepared each dish, I prayed for my family, each member. I thanked God for each one and counted my blessings one by one.
We all sat around the table and gave thanks as a family. It was a beautiful thing to behold. One of those memories I will always hold in my heart. God has truly blessed us. We have way more than what we deserve. I thank God for all things today. For family, for warmth on a cold day, for companionship sweet, for our new calf that was born, for fresh milk and meat grown on the farm. For eyesight, hearing, for the ability to walk or run. I mean, we have so much, so much to be thankful for. This is the week that people gather together to remember to be thankful but I say, every day should be a day of thanksgiving and joy! Be that light to your family that they need each and every day. Let people know you for your joy and for your thankful heart!
Here is our new calf, I named MORGAN, since she was born on Morgan Branch! She is a spritely calf, soft as can be. I am so excited to have fresh milk again. What a blessing! I am making kefir again and looking forward to butter, yogurt, and cheese making. I love how life comes in seasons. More to be thankful for!