Our Unexpected Journey

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Floyd has been content, at peace, and full of smiles.  I'm always grateful for all those things.  I don't take them for granted.  I pray all the time for God to comfort him and give him peace.

One of the carers took Floyd for a wheelchair ride outside this week.  He's such an "outdoorsy" guy.  I know he would have loved the sunshine and fresh air.  She then wheeled him around the hospital, greeting the nurses.  He smiled at each of them.  We will try to do more of this when the weather allows.

When we go through hard times, the “storms” of life, one of the first things to disappear can often be our joy.  It seems to get sucked up in the storm, much like a tornado sucks up everything in its path.

I’ve been in the midst of a number of storms all at once recently, and I’ve been thinking that I don’t want to lose my joy!  One of the storms involves physical pain.  Physical pain can especially rob us of joy because so much of our energy goes into battling the pain.  I’ve been reflecting each day on maintaining my joy in these stormy times.

One of the things I realized is that joy is a choice.  The Bible says “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)  But to receive that joy from Him, we have to choose to turn to Him, to stay tucked in close to Him.  He doesn’t force Himself on us.  We must choose to draw close to Him in order to receive the joy that brings strength.

Staying close to the Lord in the midst of the storm keeps us close to His springs of joy.  Those springs are unlimited, and they flow freely from His loving hand and His throne of grace.  He longs to baptize us in His joy - especially during stormy times.

I remember when I was 15 years old.  I was in the hospital with a serious illness.  It was also at an important juncture in my walk with the Lord.  I cried out to the Lord laying in that hospital bed, and had the most wonderful experience.  I felt the Lord say He wanted me to experience His joy.  He wanted me to know what was in store for me in walking with Him.  I could almost physically feel a fountain of joy being turned on inside of me.  Joy bubbled up uncontrollably.  

I started to giggle and laugh because my heart was so overwhelmed with His joy.  At the same time I felt His love, His closeness, His peace.  All the things I was worried about just evaporated in the midst of His abundant joy.  I felt cocooned in a bubble of His joy.  It was the most awesome experience.  I've never forgotten it.  And the next morning the doctors came in and said they couldn't find any trace of the illness.  They released me and sent me home.

Many times through the years when I've been in "storms," I've remembered that joy!  I don't want to miss out on it in the midst of the storm.  His wonderful, abundant, incredible joy is independent of the circumstances in our lives.  We need to wait in His presence and ask Him to fill us with His joy!  I've been doing that in the midst of my present storms - and His joy has been flowing into my heart.  Thank you, Lord, for your joy!

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."  Psalm 30:5

"You have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy."  John 16:22

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him."  Romans 15:13

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."  Psalm 94:19

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."  Habakkuk 3:17-18

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."  John 16:24

I'm so grateful for the gift of joy that He pours into our hearts!

A few days ago I looked out to the ocean and saw something unusual.  I couldn't quite make out what it was so I went to look in my telescope.  (A few years ago, Floyd used some loyalty club points/coupons to buy me my telescope.  He knows that I love to watch what's happening on the ocean - the big ships, the fishing boats, the surfers, the whales and dolphins, all the constant activity going on.  He saved up his points and got a good telescope for me. I use it all the time.)

As I looked through the telescope, I saw a large catamaran sailboat with what looked like a damaged sail.  It was being towed into the harbor by 2 very small boats.  It was such an unusual sight that I just watched it for a few minutes.

As I watched it, the thought came to me - we all need help at some time.  Even the biggest and most powerful of us sometimes can't manage, and we need help.  Here was this beautiful sailboat that couldn't make it back to the safety of the harbor.  It had broken down, and needed 2 small, simple boats to pull it to safety.  The 2 boats were so small that I actually wondered if they would manage to pull it all the way into the harbor - but they slowly towed it in.

During our unexpected journey, I've been keenly aware that I've needed the Lord's help!  But I've also needed help from those around me.  I couldn't have made it through the months of surgeries and chemo without sweet friends who stayed with me, encouraged me, and cared for me.  I couldn't have made it without my son and others who have driven me to appointments, and have done my grocery shopping and other errands.

And I certainly couldn't have made it without all the prayer support!!  I’m so grateful to each one for every prayer they’ve prayed - long or short.  Those entreaties lifted to the throne have sustained me.  They've carried me through the roller coaster events that have come our way.  They've helped cushion all the ups and downs.  I'm so, so grateful for every whispered prayer.

God intends for our lives to be interwoven together.  Some of those praying for us I don't even know, but, through those prayers on our behalf, our lives have become linked together for eternity.  

Floyd was always so strong and healthy.  We talked at times that he would probably outlive me.  He was a "giant" in some ways physically because of his stature, and he was also a giant spiritually.  I could always lean on him.  In my times of weakness, I knew he was there to support me.  But, like that big beautiful sailboat, he became disabled......and I have needed help and support to keep going.

As I watched the event on the ocean - my heart was filled with gratitude that my family, my friends, and all of those praying for us have helped keep me afloat .  I've prayed for God to bless each dear one.

"Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble."  Isaiah 35:3

"God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another."  1 Peter 4:10

"Moses' arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up.  So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on.  Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands.  So his hands held steady until sunset."  Exodus 17:12

"Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2

"And do not neglect to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."  Hebrews 13:16

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."  Philippians 2:4

I know God has sent many of His "angels" to help me on this unexpected journey.  I'm so grateful!  We need one another.  I thank the Lord for linking our lives together in such special and wonderful ways.