living in the joy of the Lord

Oh man. I continue to be awed by the perfect timing of God’s words to me. Yesterday I spent 40 minutes wandering around the (rather extensive) backyard garden path, sort of as an after-dinner stroll and a chance to chat with God, away from everything else. I like to imagine that Adam and Eve did the same thing, walking through the garden in the cool of the day, and just talking to Him. It had been a while since I last talked to God in this way, out loud, slowly, chewing on every thought, leaving space in the quiet for Him to respond. It helps me to think a lot more clearly, and focuses my heart and mind better than when I pray silently. Anyway, I told him about how I’ve been doing this past week at work, and what I thought about my time here in France so far. I found it hard not to be struck by doubt and fear, not knowing really what I’m doing here, or how my life is contributing to His glory, here and now. I know that about a week and a half ago, He told me not to worry about this, and that all I had to focus on was loving Him and loving the people he is placing around me, but I struggle. I struggle to do this because I feel like it is so hard for me to even be helpful to my coworkers, when it’s they who have to explain everything to me twice in slow and simple French, and it’s they who drive me to and from work every day even after a long concert day, and it’s they who lovingly show me what kind of groceries I should buy, and ask me if everything is ok and tell me that if I need anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask… I am infinitely loved and taken care of by everyone around me, and even the most I can do right now to reciprocate that love seems very little to me. I started to wonder if I’m really on the right path, if I should be focusing my studies in this direction, if it’s really going to be productive for the advancement of the gospel or pleasing to God, and I feared above all, that all of my efforts will just come to nothing. Like most people (I assume), I hate finding out that I was wrong; I fear incompetency; I desire to please—God, and the people around me. Luckily, God was in the garden too, and this is what He said to me:

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going, I know the path I have laid out for you.
If you feel like you are worthless or here for no reason, don’t, because I made you, and I have planned out every single day of your life.
You cannot see why you are doing this right now, but one day I will make things clear.
Remember the sunrise and the direction that your heart should face; it is enough to just put one foot in front of the other, so long as you are looking in my direction.
I will not let you stray to the left nor to the right, because I love you and am guiding you forward.
Do not fear the future, and do not doubt the present, because I am there and here with you wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

I heard His voice in the stream that gurgled happily through the brush; I felt his delight in three golden stalks of wheat amidst blue flowers; I was comforted to know that He is always listening, and that even if no one here understands me, He always does. I knew that my life is worth living and full of His joy, simply because I am His. I knew that I would be a part of His plan to redeem everything around us that is fallen, but that is not why He loves me. I am His daughter, not His employee, as my good friend V likes to say. And even as the Lord is blessing me more and more with my French and my ability to contribute to the team at work, I know that that is not where my worth is found. I pray that He will continue to fill me with understanding of His love and that that will overflow out of me naturally to pour out upon the people I see every day—how, exactly? Only God knows, but I will prepare my heart to follow and my hands to do His will, in thankfulness and assurance of His guidance.

This morning I opened up my devotional packet and read Psalm 16:

1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.
5 Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Amen! What a good God I have, to confirm again so clearly the words that He spoke to me in the garden last night!

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