A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a park in Poland where over 20 years before I had been a young, idealist missionary. At this particular moment, I had just finished a mission trip to Austria, DuBai, Macedonia, and ending up in Poland.
All along the way, wonderful missionaries and Christian leaders and women who attended my seminars, confided in me their issues and problems--marriage, prodigal children, financial, disappointments with Christian leaders, loneliness, depression and so on. I was pondering my own life. It seemed that often, my walk with the Lord was more of a plodding by obedience, but often lack luster and at times I questioned God's goodness because of my own challenges.
As I was sitting there on this lovely spring day, I realized that I felt the same way so many in my life did--a disappointment at the lack of ideals that were upheld in life. Loneliness. Weariness. Disappointment. I wanted and have always wanted to be close to God, but sometimes He felt far away. I had been a Christian for many years and in full time Christian work for over two decades. But, when I looked at my own heart, I could see that I shared the feelings of those who had shared with me on the trip.
I still loved God with my whole heart, but struggled to be in that place of peace, joy and that sense of the Holy Spirit bubbling up from within like springs of water. Now, of course I had lived in love with the Lord and had so many times been filled with an overwhelming love for Him and His reality.
Yet, another realization permeated my mind. I do not want to be a victim. I don't want to go gasping into heaven with a strain on my face, saying, "Well, I'm here! I made it." I wanted to have joy, to be content, peaceful, consistent. I began to form a commitment in my heart. If Biblical joy, a fruit of the spirit, I want to have it, understand it, live in it. I did not want the outer issues of my life to determine the internal state of well being.
And so, my quest began--my quest to understand Biblical joy. To be the kind of believer that others could really be with me and sense the love, goodness and life of Christ, consistently, all the time.
Just at that moment, I glanced over and saw a sweet, little toddler gleefully swirling around with his arms held upward, grasping at lovely blossoms from a budding tree that were gently raining down in the breeze. I thought, "That is how I want to be--innocent, unaware of burdens, joyfully engaging in life with my God with deep, heartfelt joy bubbling over in my heart."
And so, this book was the beginning of that journey for me. Just the study of joy and the pondering of what it means to walk with joy every day, every moment, no matter what, has deeply changed my life. I look at my life differently. I have more peace. I feel so much more grateful.
My daughter, Sarah, said, "I think this book is your magnum opus--your life's message." When I asked her why, she said, "Our life has been filled with stresses known and unknown to others--very difficult most years. And yet, you have always wanted to mount up over it--to find the reality of Christ no matter how hard, how disappointed, how lonely our family has been. I think you were called by God to learn this and to share it at this time."
Such a true statement--it is a roadway of finding victory in what could have been a defeated life. God is so good and He has been so faithful. I truly hope that my own journey toward Him, in the midst, might in some way give many of you a some bit of courage, strength, love and joy.
Finally, we are able to offer this book to you, my friends. I pray that if you are struggling with life, disappointed, longing for God in a deep way, that in some small way, this book will be of encouragement to you and that you may make strides, as I have in learning what it means to walk in God's presence and to experience His joy every day.
You may order it from our ministry here.
I have been so very encouraged and blessed by many of you in the past few days--leaving comments, joining my fan page on facebook. It is so foreign to me and not my normal personality skill set. In the midst of praying about it with Joy, she surprised me by putting announcements on face book, starting a fan page for the mom heart conferences, and designing a button. It was really a sweet surprise to see this morning when I awakened that she had done her best to help me at several levels in areas of computer that are quite foreign to me.
She was aptly named, Joy! May the grace, peace and joy of the Lord be yours today!