Going for the Deeper Joy
For some reason, it has hit me harder this time around (with the news) than before. And this morning the reason for this finally dawned on me. I am not willing to sacrifice the joy I get in helping people!
Perhaps this is the "mother" coming out in me, but I really, really like to help people. God has given me a heart of generosity and sensitivity. I love to nurture others, to ease their suffering, to bring them joy. Maybe it comes as a monetary gift, or a meal, or childcare, or just bringing folk to the farm for some old-fashioned romping, or giving a listening ear, or seeing how to solve a practical problem. Each situation calls for a different response, but the joy is the same. They get relief, and I get joy.
Some call it the gift of helps....my mother has this gift. There seemingly is no problem she cannot solve, and she has an attitude of "safety" where people feel free to come to her with their hurting situations.
Some call it a "mother's heart"...that nurturing skill, where everyone around feels like a little chick feels under a mother's wing....soft, secure, protected, supported.
When God is taking us towards that last leg of the Journey, He is appointing us to lay down all the things that have brought us joy in this life....family, friendships, nature, hobbies, work, ministries....and sometimes this sacrifice brings us tears.
It's not that we are afraid of dying....it's not that we are not appreciative of seeing His face in Heaven...it's not that we belittle the reality of eternal bliss. It's just that we don't want to let go the joy that has been our portion in aspects of life here on earth.
And for me, that joy is bound up in serving others, in the Ethiopia ministry, and in walking on the farm.
So, how to handle this sadness? Let me suggest some things.
1. As in Life, so in Death....there is no surrender too small or too great for the Savior! And it's a no-brainer about whether or not to surrender. Romans 12:1 says "because of His mercies," because of what He has already done for me, how can I possibly do anything else except totally surrender?
I love to garden. Every year I plant a vegetable garden. Every year I harvest and enjoy fresh, organic vegetables on my table. Every year I can or freeze vegetables to enjoy in the winter. And many, many years God has put us in Ethiopia during strategic times in the garden. One year we returned from 6 weeks in Africa, and I came home to weeds that were knee high, strangling all my vegetable plants. I groaned, looking at that mess....and God said to me in His quiet gentle voice, "Are you willing to sacrifice even your garden for My appointment?" I stood silent before Him, ashamed that I had even questioned or complained about it.
So now we come to a new situation, yet it is the same scenario. I stand before the Garden of Serving; it is about to be taken away from me. Am I willing to sacrifice it for the Lord's appointment in Death?
Is He the Lord?
2. Underneath the joy of serving is the pain of watching others suffering. And as I come to the surrender of my role in relieving that suffering, there is a nagging pain in my heart at the thought that they will suffer without my service. Somehow I've got underneath an impression that my role in other's lives is an absolute necessity! How foolish!
My Lord is able to meet their need just fine without me. It is sin to harbor the idea that without me no problems can be solved! God has used me greatly in the past....to give babies to motherless women, to literally save lives, to ease financial burdens, to sooth spirits of anxiety and confusion, to give supplies where none existed, to open up doors of opportunity.
Can He not continue to do this through someone else?
He is the Lord. He is the master of the universe. He raises up and He lays down. He orchestrates all that concerns His people. And my passing from this earth will not reduce His ability one wit!!!
Do I trust His character to remain the same after I go to Him?
3. I must examine the source of my joy. In all honesty, often it is the Doing that yields the joy. Jesus said "It is more blessed to give than to receive." He was right! But such is deficient. There is a greater joy than Doing....and that is the joy of Him. The deeper joy must come from a deeper Source....it must come from the One who appointed the doing. To look past the Doing to the Savior, and to receive Joy from His face is a far more pure and eternal joy!
And that Face will go with me through Death. The Doing will be left behind, but the Face will continue.
So the deeper joy can continue through Death...and it is a joy without sadness. During these weeks or months before when the Doing must stop, I will focus my eyes upon that Face, and draw the deeper joy from Him.
February 14, 2012