At the beginning of 2014 I needed a new journal. I typically don’t love journals with writing on the front but I saw this one and thought this is the one for me. Joy. That was what I was trusting the Lord for this year and there couldn’t have been a better journal to begin my writings for the year in. Every time I begin a new journal, I ask the Lord to reveal scripture in my time with Him that would shape how that season that I’m using that specific journal would unfold and in every journal I’ve ever had it’s been amazing to see the passages in the front of each journal reflect, unbeknownst to me, the season God was walking me into. Two passages stood out to me as I was reading early on this year and so sit in the first page of this “Joy journal”
“Joy comes in the morning…” – Psalm 30:5
“Lord, if your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from this place.” – Exodus 33:15
The first was because I was sensing the Lord leading me into a new season of joy as God was bringing healing to my heart from the loss of Sophie. The second was because we were beginning to get opportunities to talk about Sophie’s story on a larger scale and I sensed that we really needed God’s presence and wisdom to know what He was asking us to step into and out of.
Now, fast forward to a few days after we found out about our little girls’ condition and you could only imagine how my heart felt looking at this journal, much less opening it. I wanted to burn it. Seriously, I felt like “this is a load of crap”, but I said far stronger words in my heart that I’ll refrain from sharing here. (Not because I don’t want to be raw and authentic… but some rawness is better left experienced by just a few and not on a social media platform where words you say don’t ever go away. Okay, end little soap box on words.)
As I was wrestling with God over these verses I fully believed He had placed on my heart to trust Him for this year, I could not
1. Understand how those two fit together
2. Understand how in the world this could still be a year of joy.
Yet, even though I didn’t and still don’t understand I really do believe that God was/is asking me to trust Him for Joy, unexpected Joy this year. A couple of weeks later, again mulling over these two verses and having a very blunt conversation with God about my feelings of these, He brought to mind fairly quickly the following verse…
“In my presence there is fullness of joy.”
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11
It was this “ah-ha” moment. I was reminded that even when I wrote of my hope for 2014, bringing home a child, more joy than sorrow, my greatest hope was that “I would fix my eyes on Jesus, find my hope in Him as I lay my desires at His feet and walk in new surrender. Jesus, my only guarantee, He is the one I’m praying would be the direction of my gaze in the midst of the deep longings of my heart this year.” If I look at all I feel right now, the disappointment, the longings, the joy I long for is the joy of bringing home a baby, of seeing our family begin to grow and not just saying goodbye to another child. Though that longing is incredibly valid and that joy I pray will come one day (perhaps even this year, trusting the Lord to do a miracle of epic proportions), I know that when you peel back all the layers of my broken heart there is a seed inside that says “the Joy I really want, the Joy I know I really need, is the kind that comes from simply being in the presence of God.” You know, I don’t know Him like that. I don’t know Him in the ways that Paul talks about Jesus saying “I count everything as loss compared to knowing Him.” But from the things I have learned about who God is, I do know that I want to know Him more. I get glimpses of this Joy that comes from being in His presence and this year I pray that I would discover more fully what it really means that “In His presence there is fullness of Joy.” So there sits a third verse in the front my journal. And I know that I cannot walk through this year, and I cannot experience the kind of joy I long for if His presence does not go with us. And deeper still, more than even the joy, I long for His presence.