After attending the local Junior College in our home town, Piper and I transferred to Chico State University in Chico California, about three hours from our home town. Piper was majoring in Early Childhood Education while I was seeking a degree in Recreation Administration with an eye toward youth Ministry in the local church. One weekend we decided to do something fun so we signed up for the “Mid Term Break Car Rally.” It was the type of rally where each car was given a set of CLUES that would direct you, turn by turn, around the mystery course to the finish line.
So along with our tall friend Leonard, we gassed up my MGB… with Piper folded up like a pretzel in the back behind the front seats (no back seat, just a very small flat place that housed the duel batteries!)… and headed downtown to the start of the Rally. Well, our expectations were met on that Saturday evening and we all had a really good time. We also realized that we were actually pretty good at figuring out the CLUES that progressed us rapidly around the course!
If I remember correctly, we only got really stumped with one step but had a bit of good luck as we spotted some other cars we recognized to be in the rally take a turn on a side street that none of us even knew existed. So, on a hunch, we followed them and soon discovered that it was the right direction. All in all, it turned out to be a good night as we ended up winning third place in the overall rally and received a plaque for First Place in the “First Timer” category! I still have that plaque and proudly display on the wall it in our study!
What was especially rewarding and fun with that rally was that each CLUE led you on a specific course toward a particular goal. I have come to realize that God tends to do the same thing with certain subjects within His Word. Lately I have found myself studying a multitude of scriptures that all have to do with JOY. We’ve shared a few of these in past blogs for your edification as well. Then, a few days ago, as Piper and I were driving into town, I began to share some of the JOY scriptures with her as we traversed the countryside where the fields with their rows and rows of tobacco were all sprouting up with their rich green hues and big leaves.
I mentioned Philippians 4:4 where Paul encourages us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice!” (MKJV) Then I confessed James 1:2 as the Pastor of the Jerusalem Church wrote “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations,” (MKJV) and l wrapped up my mini-sermon to Piper declaring the words of Nehemiah as he attempted to build up the saddened people of Israel as they stood in the midst of the ruins that used to be their spectacular capital city, saying “let there be no grief in your hearts; for the joy of the Lord is your strong place.” (Bible in Basic English)
And then it hit me… right then and there in the midst of the tobacco fields no less! I figured out the CLUE to where the Lord was leading us. Do you see it as well? I was so excited that I almost had to pull over, but I gained control of the wheel, got us centered back in our lane and declared to my wife… “Do you see what the Lord is doing in these verses of scripture? He is leading us to our ‘Strong Place.’ He wants us to ‘REJOICE in the Lord’ at all times and to stay in an attitude of JOY when we come upon tough times… ALL BECAUSE IT LEADS US INTO HIS STRONG PLACE!”
You see, the JOY of the Lord is our strength and when we are strong, we are better equipped to do the right thing, say the right thing and end up being an encouragement to others… even when WE may be the ones going through the hard times in our lives!
I told you about my experience the other day when I was in the midst of an attack of discouragement after Piper had an unusually rough morning (See: “Another Tool” 6/4/18) when I finally fought if off with some vocal confessions of REJOICING which not only made me feel better, but worked to strengthen me spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.
It’s like when Hannibal Smith used to say on the old “A-Team” TV show in the eighties, “I love it when a plan comes together!” Although, in this case it might be more accurately stated, “I love it when GOD’S PLAN comes together!” I think that God probably teaches us some important truths through a series of CLUES that we have to figure out on our own so that it will be more personal and important to us… because we’ve had to work for it!
What do you think about that? I like it A LOT better when I am feeling strong than when I am fighting physical, mental, emotional and even at times spiritual fatigue. How about you? It looks to me that the big CLUE that God gives us throughout His Word points directly to JOY and REJOICING as the pathway to His strong place… and you know? It’s a place where Piper and I have learned to pitch our tent! Hopefully you’ll join us!
Have a terrifically JOYFUL weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting His JOY to bring me into His STRONG PLACE today?”