The Joy of the Lord
Last week I shared with you my huffing and puffing experience as I jogged for the first time in awhile. It was such a disappointment since those times are typically my most uplifting of the day as I listen to Messianic Jewish worship music, share my deepest thoughts with HaShem/Yeshua, and listen for His teachings. Yet it was such a great wake up call to take better care of myself, and by so doing, bring my daily experiences back to intimacy with our Creator. As the days passed I (mostly) ate more mindfully, did a little more walking, eventually jogging, got better rest, and became very aware of yet another piece of the puzzle. . .
I’m generally an upbeat person, and I’ve been feeling fine. Just not over the top joyous. Yet I observed in each of two close people in my life a demeanor of such an uplifted spirit that their spiritual centeredness, their joy, was obvious, and contagious. One recently had lost a close personal relative. Despite that, and perhaps as a result of the deepening love she was feeling around her, she clearly was walking with the joy of the Lord. Her conversations, deep spiritual insights, choices of how to see setbacks, her interactions with others exuded the joy of knowing Him. His presence as the source of her strength, her sense of shalom in spite of all the hardships, were obvious to those around her.
Another close person who also works daunting hours and has more than her share of our typical life’s challenges – long workdays, fatigue from recent Covid illness, ridiculous tax pressures, being the head of the household – struck me with her ability to be joyous. Her choices of conversation topics were all about the amazing blessings going on in her life, or noticing beauty in the smallest things. I’m sure she had other subjects she could have dwelt on given her list of what others would truthfully see as burdens. And yet, both of these precious people clearly were showing me the joy that is felt when we walk so closely cradled in the arms of Yeshua.
As I was processing these visions of holy joy, on the stunning Sunday of Simchat Torah, I put on my running shoes and set out with the Daily Dvar playing in my headphones instead of my usual praise music. And so it began. . . just like the first reading from Genesis 1.
As the beauty of the fall foliage filled my eyes, and the power of the Scripture reading filled my ears, I experienced a jog like never before. Each melodic word filled my body with Him. I listened to the story of creation while His glorious created world radiant in vibrant fall colors surrounded me. The magnificent beauty was even more magnificent. Psalm 1 spoke to me as “one who delights in the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.” I wanted more when the readings ended. I listened to the genealogy of Yeshua in Matthew 1 and never before noticed the melodic lilting rhythm of the list of names, quite the opposite reaction I have felt from previous readings of this passage when it seemed like the list went on forever. Now I heard the beauty in the precise recitation of the names culminating in the birth of Yeshua, to be called Immanuel.
And you guessed it, as I then shifted to the usual soundtrack I listen to on my jogs, “Immanuel” was playing. And that is not the first song by any means on that playlist I created several years ago. It was just “coincidentally” the one playing at that precise moment so perfectly timed with the reading I had just finished hearing of Yeshua’s genealogy. Such a beautiful love drop, a Godwink, making me feel God’s presence with me in that very moment. I was so moved by the entire experience that I didn’t even realize I had run more than my usual half hour, with ease. I was continuing to feel His closeness as my worship music continued to play, feeling like I could have kept jogging on and on and on and on. . .
But I didn’t. Better to save my knees for, God willing, years to come. And so I walked back home smiling, loving the music, filled with the joy of the Lord. How being in Scripture, in Him, became the source of such a lightened spirit within me, strengthened no matter what the day may bring, enabled to immerse in His created world even more deeply.
Don’t wait. No matter what may be weighing you down, take those actions to bring Him close. What better way than through the Daily Dvar, worship music, time outdoors, prayers, talks and listening times with Him. The more of those intentional experiences with Him, the less space in your soul for the other stuff. So many ways to find Him, know Him, be with Him, fill yourself with His Holy Spirit, even on your very worst day.
Can you imagine? You don’t have to. Just try it.