Fullness of Joy
"For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands." Psalm 92:4
Standing on the deck of a lakehouse with my husband, my daughter, and a few close friends, I pretended to blow out a candle that wouldn't light placed carefully on my 2 freshly roasted marshmallows.
I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate my birthday than to spend a day and a half away from home, making s'mores and playing board games with family and friends! As I reminisce on this past year, I am absolutely overwhelmed and blown away by what God has done in my life. My heart aches for words to express the depth of love, gratitude, and wonder I feel toward Him. It is the longing of my heart to share the wonders of His ways in my life so that many will hear and want to know this amazing God for themselves!
It was this time last year that I was weary with grief. I had just miscarried for the 3rd time a few months earlier, which was the climax of 2 challenging and sorrowful years, and I felt tired. Tired of grieving, tired of the unexpected struggles with fear, jealousy, and anger that came with every baby commercial and pregnant woman I saw.
It was in this state of being that I felt lead to insert myself into the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. In this passage Jesus asks this blind beggar, "What do you want me to do for you?" It was incredibly powerful for me as I pondered how I would respond if Jesus had asked me the same question.
I felt the weight of my response. Jesus of Nazareth, Son of the Living God, had just offered to do something for me. What did I really want? Did I just want to be pregnant, or was it more than that? I sat in silence in my living room staring at that page in my Bible feeling almost nervous as if Jesus was right there in front of me awaiting my answer.
I thought back on my life and how my relationship with Jesus had been the constant and central joy. He has captured my heart like no one else. Yet, after a couple years in the darkness of grief and sorrow, where God had been silent, I didn't feel much joy in Him. In fact, I had been wrestling with feelings of anger and frustration with Him. I felt confused by what seemed to be God's lack of concern for my situation and His silence toward me.
Even more than just wanting children, I longed for restoration in my relationship with Him. I pondered the question again: "What do you want me to do for you?" I carefully and decidedly wrote in my journal, "I want the fullness of joy in Your presence. (Ps 16:11)" I hesitated, and then added "And I would love to have children one day."
I continued along with the story of Bartimaeus in Mark 10: "'Go,' said Jesus, 'your faith has healed you.' Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road." So I concluded my journal entry, speaking of myself, with: "Immediately Jesus began to answer her requests, and she followed Him the rest of her days."
My birthday came a few weeks later. As I have now made this a habit each year, I asked God for a birthday gift. (Some years I have asked for a specific thing, and other years just for anything that I KNOW is from Him.) His gift to me became apparent immediately. As I was getting dressed and singing to a new worship CD, I unexpectedly found myself jumping and dancing! I was overcome with such a deep, profound, uncontrollable joy that the only explanation was that it was supernatural.
Immediately, I remembered my request from a few weeks earlier for the fullness of joy that is in God's presence. There couldn't have been a better description of what I felt. I had such an unexplainable sense that this day was the starting of a new season. That God was doing a new work in my life. I was sure of it. Of course my next immediate thought was... "If God answered my request for joy, maybe He also answered my request for children! What if I am pregnant again? Talk about one amazing birthday present!"
I briefly entertained the thought of purchasing a pregnancy test, but then quickly dismissed it. I had taken so many pregnancy tests, some positive, some negative, and it had always been a discouraging process because of the multiple miscarriages I've had. I told God, "The only way I'll take a pregnancy test is if you delivered it to my doorstep!"
My day continued to go wonderfully! Jimmy, as always, outdid himself and took me out to a nice restaurant, threw me a surprise party, and gave me his standard 3+ gifts! It was later that night at my party that my dear friend and mentor Krystal asked me to step outside with her so she could give me a special gift. She tried to explain that this was a strange gift and she didn't mean to offend, but felt like she was supposed to give it to me. And sure enough, as I stood on my doorstep and unwrapped this small box, I laid my eyes on what else but a pregnancy test!
I immediately began crying as I told her my prayer from that morning. Her response was simply this: "I'm not sure when you are supposed to take it, but I think this is God's way of saying 'Be ready.'"
Although I did take the pregnancy test that night and it was negative, it didn't phase me. I knew God was going to also answer my request for children and that this was his way to let me know. (I still have that pregnancy test by the way.) It was just over a month later that Jimmy and I found ourselves in a hotel room Jerusalem, Israel staring at a positive pregnancy test!
"For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands."
As I rocked Lively to sleep this morning, I cannot help be reminisce on all these things. My God is great and He does great and marvelous things in the lives of His children. This past year has been marked by joy. Not joy from getting what I want and being free from pain, but joy in HIS PRESENCE. And I know the joy I have would not be nearly as deep and profound if I had not walked through the valley of grief and sorrow clinging to God though I couldn't see or feel Him. I look forward to what this next year of life will bring. Whether joy or sorrow, peace or strife, I am learning to rejoice in whatever God brings my way because in either circumstance He is still with me. And that indeed is the greatest gift I could ever receive: more and more of His presence. It is there that I find FULLNESS OF JOY.