I had to let go of a dream recently. One that I have thought of and pictured a thousand times. A dream I have looked forward to for decades. But lately I have been praying THAT prayer, "Lord, if this is not your will show me and help me to see it clearly so I don't waste my time striving, thinking and planning for something that is just not You." And He did. I cried buckets of tears in the process of letting this dream die. Still sadness remains.
And then other just plain weird stuff happened. Circumstances that sucked the joy right out of my day and left this hovering feeling of "badness." Even when I was not directly thinking on these things...I felt them hovering...just there...always in the back of my mind. I hate that feeling.
So tonight, rather than toss and turn keeping Peter up, I decided to read the devotion I had skipped earlier in the day. Honestly, I wasn't even surprised when these words were the first I read: "Joy Instead of Despair." Of course that is the chapter I am on! The Lord has done this more times than I can possibly count. Oh, girls, in moments such as these He whispers to me: "Cherri, I see you. I see you." I am humbled by this kind of sweet, intimate attention.
Angela says, "The heart falls into despair when we forget. When we forget who we belong to and how very powerful God is." I have lived long enough to have seen many seemingly impossible circumstances turn completely around. I have cried out to God and He has answered over and over. He has moved powerfully in my life. And still I forget.
Over twenty years ago Peter and I built a "spec" house with our very dearest friends, the Palms. It looked like the perfect opportunity for us. Our friend, Bill, was a contractor; Peter was a surveyor and between the two of them, they had many, many friends in different trades. The house was built on a beautiful piece of property in the foothills of Palmdale overlooking the lake. At the time all the homes in the area were on wells, but that wasn't a problem...EVERYBODY hit water when they went to dig their wells. So we got busy with construction and before the house was even finished, it was sold for the asking price! Then we dug our well...and another one...and another one....and another one. ALL dry holes. We borrowed money from Peter's dad and dug more, still no water! We had sold a house with no water. Not good. The people who bought our waterless house did not take the news well. They wanted to sue us for the amount homes had gone up since they signed the contract. Not only that, we were told we could not sell the home because no bank would finance a house without water. Believe me when I say the night our families got together to try to figure out what to do was a pretty despairing evening for us all. We had absolutely no hope of getting out of this mess...zero, zip, none. So we prayed. We called all our kids together and got on our knees and asked God to help. One thing we were positive about was this: There was no way out of this except the mercy of God. Then the phone rang. I don't know who answered it. I don't remember who said the words: "You're not going to believe this!" But I sure remember the words that followed..."The people who bought our house want to pay cash." Even today I think back in wonder...They paid cash for a house with no water except what was trucked in and pumped into a water tank installed on the property. We were stunned by His goodness...still am.
I forget the times He has been unmistakably visible in my life.
I got up this morning and turned to the chapter I am on in Kay Warren's book Choose Joy, and there He was again:) Twelve hours later my sweet Lord greets me with this chapter heading: "Drinking From Dry Wells." Not kidding! Twelve hours ago I was begging for his joy and actually settled for the peace He gave last night so I could have a good night's rest and now I sit here smiling as I type. Redeemer. He reminds me over and over. He is a Redeemer of everything. He redeems even dry wells.
Kay shared a scene from her life that I TOTALLY related to....On page 80-81 she writes that when she is heartbroken over a situation and joy has completely vanished, leaving her feeling "upset, lonely, scared and anxious" she goes through a series of "cistern digs" to try and create joy. She will call someone to talk and pray...it helps for a moment, then despair rises again, so she distracts herself with music; it helps for a bit, then despair rises. FOOD...eat something, nope...doesn't last. Chocolate! Even chocolate cannot beat back despair. I could have written those paragraphs myself. I have been going through this cycle lately...The other afternoon, I even got out a bag of frozen chocolate chips to eat (and that was after all the crackers and hummus was gone)!!! I was desperate for joy even for a moment.
I have to wrap my mind around this truth...He, Jesus, my Lord, the Creator and Savior of my soul...He alone is joy. Last night as I talked with Him about all that was on my mind and my complete lack of joy, I knew the answer was surrender...give it up and lean on Him. But I told Him I don't want to just say the words: "I surrender." I want it to be real. I don't want to just feel good for a moment. I want true joy...whenever...WHEREVER. And I don't want to fake it.
Then, this morning, Angela had me in Psalm 63: 1-8
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
And Isaiah 40: 20-31
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on then and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God"? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.As I read these words, joy began to spark again in my heart. I started "clinging" last night and this morning, rather than feeling despair hovering in my thoughts, the Holy Spirit is hovering there instead. He is a really good "hoverer." In fact, He invented hovering...just read Genesis 1:2:)
Last night as I wearily carried myself back to my bed, I remember thinking, "It is just impossible to be joyful over all this "stuff." Very true. There actually is not a the remotest detail I can be even happy about, but I can know this with certainty...He is in this with me. He has not forgotten me. "My way" is not hidden from my Him, and I can rest in that. He is still my Redeemer. He has proved himself faithful in my life time after time...and in that...I can rejoice!
Love and joy to you, my sweet friends!
PS I took a peak at the next chapter in my devotional and wouldn't you know..."Joy in Surrender"!