Joy in the midst of it all.

Walking down the sun lite trail,

I watch as Malachi’s ears moved around listening to all the sounds.

The softness of his coat gleamed in the morning light.

I take a breath in and stroke his neck.

And in a moment, I come to a sad realization.

I realized how easy it is to lose sight of truth in the midst of what seems to be chaos,

How easy it is to be weighed down and rather than letting things go – cling on tighter to them, even if I shouldn’t.

I watch him as we walk peacefully through the forest and he seems so content –

Rather than worrying about where we are going or wanting to go back,

He quietly yields to my directions and carries on.

And that is what I want to do with the King.

For I have come to forget that Jesus calls us to lay it all down and daily pick up our cross.

And I have realized that me holding onto things does nothing but make it worse – it’s only when I relinquish the hold I have on it that Jesus can do something beautiful with it – even in it’s brokenness.

And that humbles me, that quiets my tired heart and stirs a passion in my heart to live a life laid down for Him,

Because there is nothing in this world that can bring peace, that can bring hope, or love or joy apart from Him.

I want to walk shoulder to shoulder with Jesus as Peter did,

I want to live yielded to Him so that when challenges and hard times come,

I look to Him and let it all go – letting Him straighten my path and show me what to deal with first ;

How to be loving, gracious and kind through it all –

But mostly how to live with joy even in the midst of hard times.

How to live letting Him be my peace even when everything around me is stormy,

And rather than sinking into the water because I’m so focused on the storm,

How to live by faith and only look to Him.

For I realize I lose sight of the bigger picture quickly when pressure begins to be placed on me –

I try to hold it all, I try to figure things out, I – I – I…

Rather than taking a breath and fixing my eyes back onto Him,

I try to take control of it, and it becomes something I am doing out of my strength rather than relying on His.

And we are all guilty with it, because let’s be honest, it’s hard to let go of the things we’ve come to hold onto.

It’s hard when we feel we have to fix it, when we have to make it right, when we have to do all that others ask of us.

And maybe this is just how I feel and maybe you are able to always be joyful through hardships,

But I’m not – however I want to be.

I’m thankful that He continues to refine us and remind us of His truth,

And of how we are able to live freely through His Holy Spirit,

No longer letting the labels He has placed on me of being worthy, accepted and loved be replaced with doubts, insecurities and fears – but as I spend time in His Word and in prayer, His labels remain and the others slip off.

For that is the beauty of our Savior,

He doesn’t leave us or forsake us in hardships,

He calls us to press in.

To seek His face, to seek His Truth and allow Him to walk with us through it.

For even in the hard times, I have learned the most –

I have learned that He holds it all, whether I see it in that moment or not because I believe in His Word,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
Isaiah 55:8-9

And even in the moments where I doubt, I cry out that, ‘I believe, help my unbelief’

Because I can’t hold it all together, no one else can hold it together for me but Him alone;

And He does the same for you.

It may not always look how you want it too – but I have to trust that He has a greater plan than I can see and for me that is enough.

And so after a hard last month, where I felt a lot fall apart,

The Lord stitched me back together with His grace,

He tenderly drew me back to His Word to remind me that troubles will come, hardships will too but to have joy through it will change it.

Because I look in Hebrews 12 and read,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author  and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross” 

And that gives me hope,

Knowing that the King of kings went forth into troubles, not feeling defeated but victorious because He trusted in the One whom He loved, who held Him and who knew the bigger picture.

And I want to do the same.

For how beautiful would it be to go through all the messiness of life with a joy – not of my own strength but of faith, knowing that He who has called me, will sustain me, will uphold me and will carry me through it.

For there is no greater joy than to face the hardships here on earth, knowing that eternity stands before us and that far outweighs anything I could want here on earth.

So my friends,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12

My heart for you, for us is that we will look at all that seems to be shaking, all that seems to weigh us down, the insecurities we allow to label us and the fears that seem to suffocate and to let it all go.

To look to Him even in the midst of the storm and choose Him.

To choose to believe even when it’s hard, to cry out in faith even when we doubt and say, ‘I believe, help my unbelief.’

For although I haven’t gone through much compared to others,

I do know that life with Jesus is far, far greater than life without Him.

That even when things are falling apart and I cry out for Him to hold it together,

He reminds me that His ways are far greater and to trust –

To let Him make straight the paths that seem to be winding and put back together the pieces that He see’s fits,

And as He does that to continue to live as a beacon of His love here on earth – for although we are living for a heavenly purpose, on that path, we are to live showing others the beautiful way.

And as my sweet sister shared with me the other day,

It doesn’t matter so much in what we do but who we are while we are doing it.

No matter what job we have or the things we are doing – they don’t define us and what matters most as we do those things is who we are to those around us.

So may we have joy, even if it’s hard to find at first, because it is through that deep sense of praise and worship where our Fathers heart will be seen for those who are watching us.

Carry on sweet friend through the trials and take heart for He has overcome the world.

And if you are going through a tough season, find people to encourage you, to pray with you and for you – to come before the Lord and be honest about it all. I have found reading James, 1 Peter & 2 Peter has brought light back to my heart and know it will do the same for you.

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