Our Unexpected Journey

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This week when I was with Floyd, I shared lots of news and reports of things from people.  He was alert, attentive - smiled a lot.  Then I played a beautiful a cappella rendition of "Amazing Grace" and he cried during the whole song.  We then had a time of prayer.

One of the faithful intercessors here was praying for Floyd this week.  She felt impressed with some special thoughts from the Lord:  I have not forgotten my son.  I still have him in the palm of my hand.  The two of us have conversations together.  He talks to me, and I talk to him.  My angels are with him constantly.  I have had similar impressions in prayer, so I found this very encouraging.

We are praying for courage and grace for Floyd to persevere.  The doctors had told us that Floyd would not live this long.  God has chosen not to take him home to heaven, so I think there are still things happening here on earth that are important.  He needs the Lord’s sustaining grace.

One of the biggest surprises for me on this unexpected journey we've been on is that there has been joy on the journey.  Joy is not dependent on the circumstances we're in!  On the hardest of days.......and there have been lots of hard days - physically, emotionally, and spiritually hard......but there has always been joy.

It sounds kind of crazy!  If someone heard me talking this way, they might think the pressure has gotten to me.  But what I've learned is that you can't press into God without finding joy!  Even in our pain, if we're pressing into Him, He brings joy.  The joy of the Lord, the "joy unspeakable" that the song talks about, is greater than the pain.

There have been times, both in Floyd's illness and in my battle with cancer, when I have felt like I was daily walking through the "valley of the shadow of death."  But while that "shadow" was very real, very close, and very strong, my heart's goal was to keep pressing into the Lord.  I knew that as long as I stayed close to Him, He would help me get through.

I didn't feel like I had to win the battle.  It was Jesus in me that would win.  All I had to do was keep my eyes on Him, my hand in His, and let Him carry me.  And that's where the surprise of joy came.  As I did those things, He amazingly brought joy into my heart.  Even now I find it hard to explain it and give words to it.  But it's been so very real.

The Bible says that the "joy of the Lord is our strength."  Nehemiah 8:10

That kind of joy comes from Him.  We can't work it up.  We can't fake it.  We can't make it happen.  It comes from pressing into Him in the midst of our trials.  What a precious gift it is!

The joy that He gives becomes part of the ability to live above our circumstances.  His joy carries us.

I've been meditating on all this, and someone sent me a video clip a few days ago.  It was a young couple sharing.  The husband has brain cancer.  Without a miracle, he has 1 year - 2 at the most, to live.  They shared so movingly about the things God has taught them.  And one of the things was how they have been surprised at the joy they've had in the midst of such a hard time.  They hadn't expected that.

In the midst of hard seasons, difficult trials, none of us expect to find joy.  But I want to assure you that it's there if we simply press into Him in the midst of our pain.  He surprises us with a gift that only He can give - joy.

Joy/rejoice/joyful are mentioned in the Word 430 times. Happy and happiness are mentioned 10 times.  I think that God is not as interested in making us happy as He is in filling our hearts with joy.  Joy is true satisfaction!  It satisfies the heart in a special and unique way.  

Joy is lasting.  Sorrow, suffering, the trials we walk through will pass, but joy continues in spite of hardships.  Joy is God's gift to us!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."  James 1:2,3

"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice."  Psalm 5:11

"In your presence there is fullness of joy."  Psalm 16:11

Wednesday was Valentine's - the day of love.  I've been thinking a lot about "the love of my life," my dear husband.  We married so young that it seems like we've been together all our lives. :)  I'm so grateful for my "gentle giant," and so thankful for all the years God has given us together.

I never expected to be "alone" so early in our lives.  Floyd has always been incredibly healthy, so his sudden, extreme illness was most unusual.  It still seems a bit surreal when I think of all that has happened.  I miss my dear love.

But I also am so thankful for all the love that I've been surrounded with on this journey.  Our family has been awesome.  Our friends here locally have loved and helped me - on so many different levels.  

The dear "Care Team" that spends time faithfully with Floyd.  What a blessing they have all been.  

And all of our wonderful friends (and even complete strangers) around the world who have loved us, encouraged us, prayed for us, given to us - wow, wow, wow!!  The "family" of the body of Christ has taken on new meaning as they have rallied around us.  I am so grateful for all of our "family" who have been with us on this journey.

"I thank my God every time I remember you."  Philippians 1:3

"We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers."  1 Thessalonians 1:2

"A friend loves at all times."  Proverbs 17:17

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law."  Romans 13:8

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  1 Corinthians 13:13

Our greatest love, however, is the Lord Himself!