Ultimate Joy

Archive for June 2011

Yesterday, I shared a bit of startling news with my husband.  Since I’ve already communicated it to him, it’s okay to tell you. My dog, Lily, and I are moving to California over Labor Day weekend.  (Don’t worry; I’m not leaving Richard behind.  He has some projects to complete, but he’ll soon join me.)

Mind you, at this time, I have no house to move to, no movers set up, absolutely no concrete plans in place.  But it has been my dream to live in southern California for years now.  Recently, I realized that living with one foot in one area of the country and the other foot in a totally different area was causing me deep mental anguish.

In the past few weeks, I’ve kept asking myself, “Do I take this step? Am I moving before the Lord or am I confident that this is God’s will and He’ll make extraordinary things happen?”  Those questions have kept me up at night.

Then I think about Proverbs 19:21, which offers this piece of wisdom:  You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

After prayer and conferring with wise counsel, we can move forward with confidence.  Even if our first step is imperfect, perhaps not even in the right direction, God will align us with His purpose by the end.

Here’s what I’ve learned that is propelling me forward…

You can’t redirect someone who is standing still.

Yes, there are a multitude of reasons for staying, mostly my dear friends who I will sorely miss.  But this is more about a season of going, of stepping out, realizing that my heart is restless and my feet are ready. I can move forward without fear.

I firmly believe that God is with me, for me, behind me and ahead of me.  And even if I lose my way for a bit, grow weary or don’t even know which direction to take, His purpose will prevail. Whatever happens, California or not, I take comfort in the fact that God is still in control.

So, if you have a dream, if you are in a restless heart, ready feet season, if you prayed about your future and sought the wisdom of godly counsel, then take that first step of courage.  Move ahead.

And know that God’s love supports you on your journey.

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5K

Posted on: June 17, 2011

On Saturday, the day unfolded, full of possibilities.  On this day, my dog Lily and I would attempt to walk our first 5K. As we started our trek in the forest preserve, it was misty and damp, adding an air of mystery to an already burning question…could I finish the walk?  Did I really have what it takes to walk a 5K?

Less than a year ago, after my surgery, I thought it was a big deal if I could walk to the end of my driveway.  Since then, I’ve been in training – especially with a puppy, who needs more exercise than I could possibly provide her!  We’ve been walking further and further, but I doubt we have ever approached the 5K distance.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been fearful that I couldn’t make this walk.  I wasn’t out to break land speed records.  No, I just wanted to go the distance.

As I timidly started, I felt God’s presence on this endeavor.  It was as if He was saying, “Go for it, girl!  Your potential is not limited by you because you have a limitless God living in you.”

This message resounded in my heart and made my feet seem a little lighter and the trail just a little shorter.  The lush spaces of the forest preserve had opened up my heart a bit and let out most of my fear.

As I peered down the trail, it was no longer a challenge, but a joy.  I felt I was starting a grand adventure, overflowing with all the things that God would have me do.

Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a personal test.  I’d like to say I aced it, but the sad truth is that it probably took me as long to walk 5K as some elite runners complete a marathon.  I was never so happy to see my car in the parking lot as we neared the end of the walk.  But I finished – and that’s what I set out to do.

Whatever you are facing this week, it is not too big for Him.  And whatever your limitations may be, you are not too small for Him to use you.

So, stretch yourself and go for it!

Lily graduated on Saturday.  Its odd talking about a graduation for a dog, but it is quite an accomplishment for both handler (me) and the dog.  Lily wasn’t the star of her beginner’s obedience class, but then again, she wasn’t the dunce either.  Somewhere in the middle, which means we have some work to do in order to excel in the next class.

During our test, my nervousness was near its all time high.  I kept telling myself to relax since the dog can sense your feelings.  As her handler, I wanted her to do well; to remember all we worked on.  I was her leader and she needed to trust me enough to follow my commands.

Once Lily had received her diploma and we were on the way back home, I thought about how God feels when we aren’t obedient to Him.  He loves us consistently, faithfully, righteously.  He loves us to the height, breath, length and depth of His being.  His love sought us, adopted us, brought us into His family- making us His children and heirs.  II John 1:6 states:  “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.  As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.”

I would not stop loving Lily if she failed her exam.  Just the same, I believe God will never stop loving me no matter how badly I disobey His commands.  His love assures me of His acceptance and covers me with His grace.  The signature of His love is written all over my life – upholding me in my trials, guiding me in the journey and keeping me to the end.

Just as I wanted Lily to excel, God only wants the best for me.  In Isaiah, God writes us a beautiful love letter:  “I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland…so my chosen people can be refreshed.”

As Lily’s owner, I will continue to love her, feed her, teach her, comfort her.  As the owner of my life, God will bring me great comfort, deep peace and overflowing joy.  And through the tests that I face, the only way I can excel is to be lost in His love.

Covered entirely by that love, I’ve found my resting place and the home of my deepest contentment.