Categories
Reflections

The Wall in Front of Me

“If these walls could talk, I wonder what secrets they’d tell.”

Gayle Forman

Do you ever find yourself starring at the wall? I’ve been staring at the one in front of me for several minutes. I’m sure it could say many things if it could speak, but right now, I’m relying on its quiet strength.

The wall in front of me has witnessed many conversations marked by an array of emotions. The myriad of words do not echo in the wall like they do in my head. The sound has been absorbed and silenced

The wall in front of me stands straight and tall, unaffected by the frenetic energy on either side. It divides the chaos and is still. It steadies me.

A textured beige wall with nail holes and a screw.
This is my view

The wall in front of me is pierced. I’ve removed the art that has adorned it for the last few years and all that remains are a few protruding screws and some nail holes. Somehow, it is still stately.

As constructs of the mind, walls get a bad rap. They are said to represent confinement and stand in the way of progress. Yet, I find solace in mine.

“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

Isaac Newton

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”

Ronald Reagan

And today, when my brain has passed the point of overload, this wall in front of me is reassuring. It lets me stare and gather myself. It shares its quiet dignity.

I find Jesus at the wall in front of me

As I have only the wherewithal to sit and stare at the wall, I find Jesus here. His Holy Spirit shows me how the wall in front of me is like my Savior. He does for me daily what the wall is doing for me now.

He hears the emotion in my words, erases my confusion, and gives me solace.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace”

1 Corinthians 14:33a

He stands unmovable amidst the chaos.

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”

Hebrews 12:28

He has been tortured and wounded but has never lost His glory.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

C.S. Lewis

His reputation has been marred and yet my soul loves Him.

“For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah,” and will deceive many. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 24:5, 2 Timothy 3:14, 15

When actions end and words fail, when I have nothing left but an empty stare, Jesus invites me to lift my eyes and see Him. He stands sure and strong and beckons me to rest.

I’ve been staring at the wall in front of me for several minutes now. In the stillness, I’ve felt my Savior with me. I’ve recognized His peaceful presence and been inspired. He has equipped my soul. He’s reminded me of my purpose and realigned my focus.

How about you? Do you need to spend some time staring at the wall with Jesus? What do you notice about the wall in front of you that reminds you of His greatness?

“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:21-22

Categories
Reflections

When He Becomes Everything, then I Am Something.

Have you heard it said that when you get to the end of your rope, that is where Jesus begins? I understand the concept – I get to the end of me quickly. I’m so finite, that in order to thrive, I need to tie onto the infinite character of Jesus.

When He becomes everything, then I am something.

A ship rope tied onto extra length: That's When He Becomes My Everything
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com
I have read that I can find Jesus ‘at the end of my rope’.

But that statement “I find Jesus at the end of my rope” assumes a few things. The first is that my rope is strong enough to meet and ‘tie off’ with Jesus. Is my rope similar enough to what Jesus offers?

Two different thick ropes joined together: That's When He Becomes My Everything
Photo by Trevor Kay on Unsplash
Two similar ropes joined together.

If I think my strength can meet end to end with that of Jesus, I have an inflated idea of myself. We’re not talking apples to apples when it comes to my rope and His.

The second assumption is that my rope has been holding me at all. The phrase “I’m at the end of my rope” implies that I have been self-sufficient, but I’ve come to the end of my resources. In reality, my rope is barely a thread. It is more like the lint from a piece of thread. Its sufficiency is nothing.

Thread lint next to unraveled thread: That's When He Becomes My Everything
Can you even see that frayed orange piece of thread lint? That represents the ‘rope’ I bring to the table.

With a realistic view of what I bring to the table, it is easy to see that finding Jesus at the end of myself is an invalid picture. I am over before I even begin. What I must do is wholly offer myself, as inconsequential as I am, to Jesus.

I need to lose myself in Him. When He becomes everything, then I am something.

Thread weaved into strong rope: That's When He Becomes My Everything
Photo by Shubhendu Mohanty on Unsplash
When I offer my ‘rope’ to Jesus, He makes up for all I lack!

When I offer my ‘rope’ to Jesus, I become part of all that He is. I find Him before, after, and all around me, sustaining me and giving me substance. Can anyone relate?

I am simple-
His wisdom is profound.

I am weak-
He moves mountains.

I am powerless-
He commands the sea.

I am tiny-
He holds the expanse of space.

I am dust-
Jesus gave me life.
When I realize I am nothing,
He becomes my everything;
and makes me into something
of value.
~Mama Lava

When I merge into the breadth and depth and length and strength of Jesus then, and only then, do I become substantial, with anything valuable to offer. I don’t find Him at the end of my rope. He is the rope. He graciously weaves me into His plan. I must accept that apart from Him, I am nothing. That’s when He becomes my everything and I become something worthwhile.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19
Categories
Reflections

An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Which are You in Line to Receive? Part 2

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”

Shauna Niequist

An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Which are You in Line to Receive?

Does the above quote resonate with you the way it does me? It makes me want to break out into applause. I also want to break down and cry. I haven’t lived life this way. In my defense, some restraint and responsibility is respectable. But when I think of all that God has given and the many opportunities I’ve had to enjoy and explore and appreciate it, I know I’ve missed out. I’ve fallen for illusions of joy at the expense of the real thing.

The illusion of joy

Have you been down that path too? Norman Rockwell paintings, Hallmark movies, and holiday commercials would lead us to believe that if we could just recreate the experiences they portray, we’d find joy. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this post, I encourage you to do so. In it, I explained where I have gone awry and tried to help you see through the illusion where I couldn’t for so long.

The illusion of joy is mesmerizing. It draws us in and doesn’t reveal itself as false until we’re deeply invested. Here, in Part 2, I will explain how I’ve learned to experience the infusion of joy. My prayer for us is that we get it right this year!

An infusion of joy

Joy comes from within. People exude it. Anyone might glimpse joy, but to have it consistently, we need Jesus. Joy is one of the gifts promised to those who follow Him. In fact, we’re told to look for joy as an identifier of who His people are. An infusion of joy is automatic if we’re connected to the true source of it.

“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”

Psalm 126:2
Candle holders which spell out J.O.Y.: An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Which are You in Line to Receive?
Photo by David Orsborne on Pexels.com
Joy comes from within

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”

Galatians 5:22 (emphasis mine)

The thing is, when joy comes from within, from the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts, the only way to stop its flow is to disconnect from Him. Sometimes we wonder how we can know God’s will for us, and friend, this is one way.

When the resources of the Spirit are suddenly out of reach, we know we have stepped out of line. Things cannot steal our joy, but if they are wrong pursuits, our choice to strive towards them will. Thankfully, repentance realigns our connection.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Psalm 51:12

The world advertises joy but can never give it. The best we can get, outside of Jesus, is happiness. But it is fleeting and dependent on circumstances that are as fickle as we are. Happiness is a cheap knock-off of joy.

“Joy wells up and moves you from within, as present as the air.

Happiness happens to you from external stimulus, it comes and goes like the weather.”

LeAura Alderson

The world would have us go all-in for a chance to receive an illusion of joy. But Jesus offers a free infusion and He’s already gone all-in to give it to us. Knowing that, we shouldn’t be susceptible to the trappings of this world.

Lighted letters spelling Joy: An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Which are You in Line to Receive?
Photo by Natasha Fernandez on Pexels.com
True joy always lights up a room!

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Psalm 19:8

The joy Jesus gives will illuminate and infuse everything we do. Wouldn’t it be best to spend our time and effort on the preservation of our connection with Him? That way, His joy will be in abundant supply in, through, and bubbling right out of us!

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

Russell M. Nelson

Let’s be about the infusion of joy! Let’s encourage each other, and ourselves, to follow Jesus with abandon and to rest in His perfection. He offers everything we need. He has everything we wish to give.

Of course, we want to honor the people we love as well. If there are relatives who want certain traditions followed a specific way, maybe they can pick up the slack on the piece that is important to them.

Jesus is the reason for the season. And if we don’t have time to seek and savor Him in it, what are we even doing?

I would love to see people proudly posting photos of the stresses they chose to avoid in order to enable the infusion of joy. What would that look like for you? Christmas dinner on paper plates to reduce clean-up time? A tree only decorated from the middle up, above the reach of curious little hands? What could you do differently to make more time for joyful infusion?

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

I realize there are people who truly find happiness in every scrap of perfection. If that is you, I see you. I respect and appreciate the way God made you. I am not trying to take anything away from you. But can I ask a favor? Please don’t place your high standards on someone whose joy is diminished by trying to live up to them. We are each gifted in different ways!

“Joy is always in process. It’s under construction. It is in constant approach, alive and well in the doing of what we’re fashioned to do.”

Matthew McConaughey

Which are you in line to receive?

Now is the time. Are you ready to say goodbye to the illusion of joy? Are you committed to the infusion of real joy instead?

Painted canvas says "Choose Joy": An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Which are You in Line to Receive?
Photo by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels.com
I choose to infuse JOY

I have found some fun ways work less and laugh more in the holiday season. I will share them in some upcoming posts on this blog. If you’re interested, make sure to subscribe and follow along.

“If we can just let go and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”

Goldie Hawn

Traditions are good. They are even important. But they shouldn’t be followed simply because they always have been. Our efforts should be put into the most meaningful pursuits. And if we want an infusion of joy this holiday season, we must cultivate our relationships with Jesus. That is how we tap into joy.

There will be a million other draws on our time, but without Jesus, the best we can find is an illusion of joy. Which are you in line to receive? Good news, it is never too late to switch lines!

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. “

John 15:10, 11 (emphasis mine)