Ultimate Joy

Archive for January 2011

There are few places in the world where history truly overlaps with the present.  Some are boring stuffy places, other more grand, but one is a sleepy little town in New Mexico named Gallup.  History slams face to face with today not because of the quaint motor lodges or the proximity of the Indian reservations.  No, Gallup gains this distinction because old Route 66 runs right through the town.

On a recent trip there, my husband, Richard, and I stood in the middle of the route – right on the center double line.  If you squinted just right, you could almost see the traffic, hear the rumblings of the old 1950 gas guzzlers and listen to the joyful laughter of the travelers headed east or west. It didn’t matter…they were, after all, on a grand adventure.

Which makes looking back, bittersweet.  Sweet because of the joy of the open road, the opportunities of Route 66 for Americans, recovering from World War II, discovering their land, their great country – some of them for the very first time.  Bitter because no one likes to be abandoned.  The road is a relic right now – overlooked and out of place.  History reaching beyond the bounds of time, yet still unable to keep up with modern advances.

Which touched me deeply as we stood on the yellow line because even as adults, we can’t escape the feelings of being overlooked, outside, left out. That’s one thing we’ll never be with God – unless we make that choice.  God will never leave us or abandon us.  And I’m convinced that God is the only one who knows which choices will bring me life and joy, and which ones will bring hardships that He wouldn’t have chosen for me if I’d asked.  The only way I know to be sure of my answers is to invite Him into the decision-making.  Then, if my choice doesn’t seem logical or I get push-back from others, I can still lean on the knowledge that He’s in it with me.  I’m sure not an expert at this, but He knows I want to keep learning how to trust Him more and more.

2011 is still a very young year.  We’ll face both opportunities and choices.  I’m asking that with every choice you are facing, that you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you toward the answer that brings you life and joy—even if it’s the answer that doesn’t make sense on the outside.  May you experience the sound of His voice in a new and personal way…no squinting needed!

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Dreams, Friendships and Memories.  That was the theme of the 2011 Rose Bowl Parade.  Every year, the tradition in my house is watching the parade.  We love to “ooh” and “aah” at the beautiful floats and wonder where the creative energy to craft such masterpieces springs from.  We marvel that all the floats are created out of flowers and natural materials.  One year, during a trip to California, we saw the floats in person.  While they looked smaller than on television, nothing could detract from their stunning splendor.

This year’s theme, though, made a greater impact on me than the floats.  Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories.  Isn’t that exactly what Christ is calling us to do?  He certainly placed the utmost importance on friendships.  He did ministry in a group of twelve, and reached out to outcasts such as the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene.  Life in Christ is lived on a higher plane because of His overflowing forgiveness, love and guidance.  We follow Him not because of a dusty theology, but because of His lavish relationship with us.

And what about dreams?  Christ knows we have aspirations and wants to help us achieve them. While He isn’t a magical genie ready to answer every wish, John 10:10 says, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” The life He gives right now is richer and fuller.  It is eternal, yet it begins immediately.  He gives us God-sized dreams and then walks alongside us giving us the strength to achieve them. 

Memories are probably the easiest.  In the Old Testament, altars were built in remembrance of God’s covenant with His people.  Noah built one after the flood had subsided.  Abraham built an altar after Isaac was spared.  An altar was built in the temple.  In the New Testament, when Jesus broke the bread and drank the wine with His disciples the night before He died, He asked that we “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)  In all the uncertainties of today, Christ asks us to hold steadfastly onto one very special memory – the one of Him.

The floats at the Rose Parade will be withered and dying (or dead) in a few days.  Just like the floats, our days on earth are also numbered.  We must make the most of our lives. There are many uncertainties in our world but what matters most will never change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)  Because of this, I know how I am going to spend 2011.  Building Dreams, Friendships and Memories safe in the arms of Jesus.