I took a break from my cupboard purging to read through the thoughtful words of my friends and family. The second to the last card I read, I recognized his printing, was that of my sweet, wonderful Dad. His wish for me read, "I wish you forever happiness. Pop ". When I read it after the party I remembered thinking how sweet it was. When I read it yesterday, all I could think was, "what my Dad wanted for me, was for me to be forever happy "! This card I once thought sweet , today is a treasure, a gift of words from my Dad, his words written, by his hand. I framed it and put it in a place where I can be reminded everyday of what he wanted for me.
As a Christian, my Father God's will for me is to be joyful. Ideally as a Christian, an attitude of joy should, be my natural state! I've learned that there is a big difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness tends to be dependent on my current circumstance, my latest reason to wine if you will. Joy, on the other hand comes from within me and has nothing to do with my current circumstance.
I think most of us are in agreement its easy to be happy when all is going well in our lives, but how can we possibly be joyful when its not? My big lesson in being joyful ironically came from an evening in the hospital with my Dad when we had almost lost him quite unexpectedly. I prayed so hard for God to not take him this way, not suddenly! I spoke to God and said "We'll take it as a heads up that you want him God, and I know that You are preparing us, as well as allowing us a few more days with him". When he made it, when God heard my prayer, my literal crying out to not take him....that is when I first experienced true from the heart joy. Joy from God in a time I wasn't experiencing happiness.
During those days of heartbreak during and following his death, I was so joyful that God gave us those extra days and provided me the strength to get through them. The testing of my faith in that hospital was producing spiritual growth in me. After that "growth spurt", I became more confident than ever that God hears my prayers and that I will endure any heartbreak that comes my way, because He will carry me through it.
Looking back on my life, that had many trials, many self induced, I now see that those very trials were challenging my faith, a faith that needed to grow and mature. It took me a long time to get here and I'm so grateful that I at last I learned about joyfulness.
I chose to be joyful at a time of very little happiness and in that I experienced a change on my inside circumstances. My free time was now focused on learning more of what God has for me to learn. I don't want to miss any of what He wants for me.
So yesterday when reading my Dad's note I was reminded that both my earthly Father as well as my heavenly Father want the same for me....forever happiness which comes from the joy I am now filled with.
" These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full".
Joy is available to all of us that are willing to humble ourselves and turn to God.
This is what echos from my heart today.....