Ultimate Joy

Archive for July 2011

It was a moment of truth.

For several hours this week, under the watchful eye of a kind and generous friend, I trained Lily, my 8-month old German Shepherd puppy.  On Saturday, in obedience class, I wanted her to shine, to be the star pupil, to have all those in the class marvel at her improvement.

Only problem was, Lily never got the memo.  For about 45 minutes of an hour long class, she pranced, she danced, she whirled to greet the other dogs.  She did everything fun and nothing she was supposed to do!  All the things Lily completed so well in practice became impossible tasks in her class.

There was no other way to describe our performance, but a messy disaster.  But then, life is messy.  If it weren’t, there would be no need for grace.  God revealed a bit about myself as my disobedient dog disrupted the class: How much I need grace.

We will never get it all “right” and we are going to mess up time and time again.  It is why we need Him so desperately.

Every day I offer up to God a messy disaster – times I’ve strayed from His Word, times I was unkind, times I didn’t obey or even listen to what He wanted from me.  And yet, He still loves me

II Corinthians 11:30 states, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”  Paul nailed it on the head; for Saturday I saw my weakness for dog training.  So let me boast a minute about my canine handling skill.

Lily loves me, but she has also figured out that I’m the “easy” one.  I’ve yet to determine where the fine line between discipline and abuse is located, so I’m not a stern disciplinarian.

But, just as I love Lily and didn’t leave her at the kennel after her poor performance, God smothers me with abundant grace providing me with daily opportunities to walk much closely with Him…to lean into Him because He is the only one that can teach and train and heal and comfort perfectly.

There is an art to celebrating a disastrous performance.  The art of celebrating a messy life is about rejoicing in the extravagant gift of grace.  So later today, Lily and I will practice our drills again; hopefully not as messy as on Saturday.  I will strive to live life more fully devoted to Him, by discovering in the messes of my life, the extravagant grace God gives.  And discover once more, Who I can really count on.

Question 4U:  How is life feeling a bit messy for you right now? 

Today, Lily and I enjoyed a walk in the neighborhood.  It’s a gorgeous day on this July 3rd.  Later this evening, Richard, Lily and I will be heading off to the fireworks in a neighboring town.

More than usual, I felt the need to drink in the joys of this eve of the celebration of our Independence Day.  It’s so quiet in my town, but yet I know our brave soldiers are fighting to keep our peace. I know there are places that aren’t so peaceful, where I wouldn’t be allowed out of my house to walk my dog without my husband or male relative accompanying me.

I thank God that Americans have fought and are fighting gallantly to keep our country secure.  Because of their efforts, I enjoy the freedom to venture out of my house safely, to walk my dog in a serene environment, to drive my car throughout this great country.

John Adams wrote to his wife, Abagail, after the Continental Congress decided to declare the American colonies free from British rule.  He said, “The day will be the most memorable in America.  I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival…it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward, forevermore.”  I remember that quote every Independence Day because up until that point, no colony had ever broken away from its mother country.  It seems us brash Americans were the first and I’m proud of that!

I’m elated John Adams decided to include fireworks in that letter.  To me, fireworks represent joy.  It is a personal, deliberate decision to use the word joy.  I could have said entertainment, amusement or astonishment.  Fireworks bring out the child in me and all those wonderful memories of 4th of July celebrations gone by.  Joined to those experiences by fireworks, I become lost in the color, light and sound.  Fireworks remind me that there are larger forces at work, stronger than I could ever be, keeping me free.  They are beautiful in their effect and surround me in the beauty of freedom – something I’ve enjoyed all my life without fighting for it.

It was just Lily, me and Jesus this afternoon under the summer sky.  The thought echoed through my heart, “Freedom was purchased for me at a very high price.” John 8:36 states, “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” It is up to me to use it wisely.

 

What brings you joy – especially during the summer?