While I was out-front mowing the front lawn on the riding mower yesterday, in the 100+ degree weather, I found myself thinking about… JOY! But it is not what you’re probably thinking… I was actually enjoying myself, even with the perspiration draining down my forehead into my eyes! Call me crazy, but I have always enjoyed working outside in the heat. That’s probably one reason I have had a side business mowing lawns and tending to yards on and off again since I was in Jr High.
Yesterday, I was just happy to be outside as it had been raining for almost two weeks and the sunshine was a happy place to be! And speaking of happy places… as I rumbled up and down our large expanse of lawn… with a smile on my face… I couldn’t help but continually glance up to our covered porch where my wife was sitting comfortably in the shade overseeing my progress. Looking at her reminded me of how she has always had the uncanny ability to turn almost any task into a joy-filled experience.
It seemed that our house was always a beehive of activity and noise when our kids were growing up. And being as Piper homeschooled them through high school, they were around a lot and with it followed the serendipity of laughter, music, praise, singing, running and lots of loud talking! Wow! Do I miss a that!
Back on the lawn mower I thought about the typical scene in our kitchen. The four children helping with the meal prep with one cutting up veggies, another stirring something in a pot on the stove, a third setting the table and the forth diligently following the instructions from the cookbook set before them on the kitchen counter and in the middle of all this… was my happy wife directing it all with the finesse of an orchestra conductor!
Then of course, skirting in and out of the crowd would be me as I gave a hand, checked on the BBQ on the patio right outside the family room door or grabbed Piper or one of the girls and danced them in-between all the bodies crammed in the kitchen space! Through it all I can’t hardly think of ONE time when Piper would get upset about anything in the midst of all the organized chaos! She just has an infectious joy about her.
I really think that Piper LOOKED for reasons and opportunities to be joyful throughout each and every day… and it all started with her personal devotion to the Word, prayer and the many faith projects that we pursued on almost a continual basis during our dating and then on into our marriage.
I caught a whiff of the fragrance of that same idea as I read Romans 4:19-20 from the Message Bible earlier this morning. Speaking of Abraham’s phenomenal faith, Paul writes… as translated in this very modern paraphrase of the Bible… that “Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say, ‘It's hopeless’… He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said.”
The thought of “PLUNGING into the promise” and coming back “up strong and ‘READY’ for God” really reached out and grabbed ahold of my imagination! All I could say was “BINGO!” and stomp my foot as I sat at the table this morning… I think I even shook up the dog who was sleeping comfortably under my feet when I had that reaction!
I had the almost immediate revelation that the various steps of faith that we’ve taken along the road of life… and especially lately… have filled us with expectation and given us something of JOY to look at and depend on… instead of at the situation we were believing by faith to change.
I think that this was one of the big take-aways from our three-year experience in Oklahoma with Bible College and being totally saturated in God’s Word! When we came back to California we were READY! We knew that we had a battle on our hands with the preliminary findings on Piper’s health needs and were excited to PLUNGE into God’s promises and then stand READY and expectant for God’s moving in our behalf!
It's exactly like one of my favorite stories of Piper unexpectantly PLUNGING into the frigid snow melt waters of Little Jamison Creek at Plumas Eureka State Park to the complete amazement and awe of all the kids and myself and then splashing up READY for any other challenge that we might send her way!
As we began to PLUNGE into the different steps of faith that we believed Papa God was instructing us to take, not everyone around us had that same focus and commitment. But you know, that didn’t matter! We were desperate enough to PLUNGE into God’s promises with every morsel of expectation that we could muster! We dove into the river of faith and came up READY for God. We focused our attention on God’s promises and I might add JOYFULLY, looked for God, anticipated Him, and expected His move in whatever usual or unusual manner He Might choose!
With our focus on Him and His Word we found the way to have JOY even in the midst of some of the hardest moments in our lives. And as an added benefit, His JOY has given us the strength to keep going during all the ups and downs of this adventure in faith! (See: Nehemiah 8:10)
So, what would YOU rather have? Joy or impotence? Joy comes when you focus your attention and actions on the Word… Impotence comes when you focus your attention on all the things that seem impossible within the scope of your own resources or abilities or even with the limited means and ways of the world in which we live. According to our scripture, Abraham choose to NOT focus on His own impotence but instead to PLUNGE head first into God’s promises and come up READY for whatever action God provided!
I like the God kind of action… how about you?
Have a great rest of the week, and as you do keep asking yourself… “In what or in whom am I expecting to PLUNGE my faith into today?”