I am sitting in my little quiet time chair with a cup of strong Austrian coffee in hand, (there are advantages to travel—I brought home 4 packages of the great tasting stuff along with a small box of chocolates!). From my second story window, I look out on the tops of countless pine trees with the Rocky Mountains peeking through the tree tops in the distance, and a sky full of wispy clouds slowing moving by. A reflection of God’s creative artistry is something I seek in every house we live in. I choose windows that look out on the most beautiful natural scene, so that I can have some of His life-stuff to bring peace and quiet to my soul each morning as I meet with him.
In front of me is a pile of books scattered over a coffee table, a couch pillow thrown onto the floor, a couple of pairs of shoes where they were shaken off and a potted plant that holds 3 wilting flowers in desperate need of water, some child’s abandoned sweat shirt, and a half-eaten candy bar. And this is only the picture of the eight feet in front of my chair. The rest of the house is much the same—meticulously decorated for this season—potted ivy with candles on my dining table, containers of flowers at the front door—blooming, but waiting to be potted, yet other life messes in the midst of the order and beauty. As the proverb says, “Where there are no oxen, the stalls are clean.” I comfort myself daily with the fact that I have 6 oxen living in my home, and thus my stalls are not always clean. My world is always a mixture of beauty and mess, order and piles of things not yet subdued. (Did I mention that Joy has interrupted me three times since I started writing this article? “Have you seen my brush? Will you practice my play lines with me for the play this afternoon? Do you think this shirt is too short to wear?)
Yet there is a significant little wooden plaque within my eye range. It reminds me daily, “Live Life Joyfully!” Choosing to live life joyfully is a choice that I have learned over a period of many years. Choosing to enjoy the moment is an inner discipline I have had to learn. It is not necessarily natural, but has become more so with the choosing of it as my practiced heart attitude.
I often love to watch toddlers. They move through their worlds with delight. We were waiting in a park on our mission trip for a friend to meet us. A toe-headed little boy was squealing with delight as he chased an illusive butterfly around a planting of bright red tulips and yellow daffodils. He was caught up in the joy of the moment, delighting in the toy figures that God had placed in his world for his pleasure. The little one was unaware that he had a milk-mustache, a shoe untied and a soiled stain on the knee of his jeans.
I hope that I am like this little boy to God—choosing to enjoy the beauty of the treasures he has place in my path. Noticing the toys he has given me for delight—Joy dancing through my room—beginning to look more like a young woman than a little girl—truly a beautiful sight to behold. One that will pass quickly. I am enjoying the tulips on my next door neighbors driveway—closest to ours, the green grass that has been so long hidden under piles of snow. Many years ago in the midst of another possible miscarriage, I was sitting by a window near some mountains in Austria. I had begun to bleed and was asking God from the bottom of my heart to please let me carry this child to completion. Just then, a little sparrow hopped up on my window sill and began to chirp. It stayed there for several minutes and hopped closer and closer to the edge where I was looking out. What a sweet, amazing creature—singing its heart out with no one to applause. It was as though God was saying to me, “I am listening. I see the birds on a thousand hills. I see you. I love you and am with you!” I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew that God, who is love, was with me and would be with me in whatever happened. The pregnancy turned out to be Sarah.
From then on, I decided to take notice of birds who sing—to believe that they are especially praising God. I see them also as a personal reminder from God that He is present. Often on my walks when I am pouring out my dark heart to God, a bird hops or sings along my trail and I am reminded that God is there—present with me! May He bring the reality of His joy to you today in the midst of your order and mess.