Thursday, July 5, 2012
A Sacrifice of Joy
I begin with a request, prompted by one I read at A Place Called Simplicity. If you plan to read this, please read every word. Don't skim it. Don't read the beginning without the ending, for you will not see the BIG picture. And as I paraphrase Linny...haven't you ever been talking to someone, pouring out your heart, while they looked at their watch...or glanced back and forth at the television? I am sharing a part of my soul. Please handle it carefully.
Over the past 12-18 months, our family has witnessed amazing spiritual victories. I stand in awe of the miracles he has performed- how He provided for our mission trip to Africa (See this post) and how he sent confirmation of our adoptions through an unexpected miraculous provision. (See this post)
When a Christian celebrates such victory, in turn, praising the Savior who made it all possible, the enemy is most disconcerted. Satan has not been pleased with the wonderful testimony of our Kingdom work. We have felt the fierce attack of the enemy this year unlike any other struggles of the past.
I have alluded to those struggles at times without many details, because this part of our story is not mine alone to tell. I can share, however, that I have never been under an attack as overwhelming as the battles I've fought in this past year.
And, I am weary.
A dear saint recently suggested, "Maybe God doesn't have you as close as He wants you to be, yet."
Most days I can say that and feel it. Most days I remember that He works all things together for my good, because I am called according to His purpose. Most days, I remember He gives beauty for ashes. Most days I hold onto these truths and others from His promises.
But, I am weary.
I have witnessed the fruition of God's calling and our faithfulness to follow. Two more angels sit at our table, sing loudly with their sisters, and call me, "Mama." Today, Josie-Tatum said, "Mom, I'm so glad we have the boys. They add so much laughter AND trouble. We have just taken everything up about 10 levels." Jesus can send affirmation through a 9-year-old who knows HIM.
Still, I am weary.
I hold in my hand a trinket from China, a gift like none other. It was given to me by someone who said, "I have never seen love like yours." I had the privilege of sharing Jesus with her. I thank Him for showing me the battle is HIS. The enemy had plans to keep our boys in China AND to be sure I was unable to share the love of the FATHER. But, He has overcome the world!
That does not mean I have not grown weary.
Two days ago, I gave in. I gave up. I decided I didn't want to fight anymore. I spent an entire 24 hours refusing to fix my eyes on Him. I slept late. Yeah, my littles got up. I just let them watch TV while I laid in bed a while. I did nothing...if you can call preparing 3 meals for yourself and 4 children nothing. I tried talking to Him, but my flesh would take over and the only thing I would tell Him was my trouble, my pain, my heartache, my despair.
I pointed fingers as I whined. So, while I was pointing fingers, I found my eyes focused on those who have betrayed me, rather than the ONE who died to set me FREE.
Some may wonder how I could see my blessings and still complain of my troubles.
Others will say, "I have been there."
Some are reading now and saying, "That's where I am right now."
I am so glad the Psalms are included in God's word. It reminds me that God listens to complainers.
But, I must also remember it is not His will for me to remain in a state of despair.
On Tuesday, Psalm 27:1 was in my prayer journal. I looked it up and read further...and noticed something I have never taken note of before...I have often quoted verse 1. The LORD is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
I continued read this familiar Psalm and stopped at verse 6...I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy.
Sacrifices of joy.
I took note, and went right back to my pity party.
At 5:00 in the morning on Wednesday, I was awake, hoping to go back to sleep, but unable. That's when I picked up an old friend, Beth Moore's Get Out of That Pit. I knew it was time to re-read that one. In the book, though, she quoted the same scripture, Psalm 27:1, that was in my prayer journal the day before.
The Holy Spirit called me back to read again, verse 6.
Sacrifices of joy.
I took note and this time decided to take action. I spent much more time with Jesus. I spent much time with my old friend and her book. I fixed my eyes on the source of joy. I searched the scriptures for hope and joy.
I also searched for the defintion of sacrifice.
Webster defines a sacrifice as an act of offering to a deity something precious.
Is our joy something precious to Jesus? I think it is. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He died for me. He died for my joy.
As I pondered the word sacrifice more, I was reminded that, in the OldTestament, a sacrifice was to be the best one could offer, one without blemish. A sacrifice cost the giver something. Perhaps, God meant in this Psalm, that sometimes our joy would cost us something. We would have other options to choose from, but He would want us to choose a more valuable gift, the gift of JOY to offer back to Him.
I made a choice, a choice to offer Him something precious...joy. Interstingly enough, it is the same joy He has given me. The joy of the LORD is my strength. It came from Him, and when I offer it back to Him, I find strength. Strength to pick up my armor and join the battle again. As I offer Him joy, I sing praises to Him, and He inhabits my praises. So, though I can sometimes feel lonely in a house full of children, I am not alone. He is here. And, in his presence is fulness of JOY.
It all comes back to a choice I can make. I can choose to offer back what He freely gives.
If I sacrifice my time to get in His presence, I will find the fulness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)
Today, I chose to wear a crown. Really. I wore it all day, only took it off while I was swimming. Everytime I looked in the mirror, I was reminded, "I am a Child of the King." When my children asked, "Why are you wearing a crown?" I told them, "I am a Child fo the King." Josie-Tatum got excited and shouted, "That means I'm a princess."
Yes, Josie-Tatum, you too are His child.
I plan to spend the rest of my days...choosing joy.
On this day, the second as I choose to offer the sacrifice of joy, a handsome young Asian man has brought me flowers, not once, not twice, but three times. I still have the crown on my head. I added the flowers. Then, the handsome young man's siblings joined him until my head was bedecked with beautiful flowers...alongside plastic jewels. I chose joy, and He chose to add to my joy.
He does indeed give beauty for ashes.
The miracle of more continues to be the miracle in me!
After opening my heart, I have one request. If this post spoke to something deep within, will you hold me accountable? Will you ask me on occasion if I have chosen joy for the day? And, if you too need to be reminded to choose joy, let me know. I'll check in on you.