Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Life of Joy

Walking in the woods, the pine needles crisp beneath my feet, my soul looks upward, towards the rich, fading sky. I walk in the woods because it helps me to think, clears my mind of distractions, sets my heart on the things above. I sense His presence more deeply here, in the quietness. 

We used to walk in the woods with my Mama. When we were little girls she spent her days with us, gave up her own dreams of pursuing, of becoming so that we could “become,” so that she could encourage our souls into the Savior, lead us to that place of decision, nurture us as only she could. In losing, in “giving up,” in bowing down, she was lifted up, and “became” what God had purposed for her life. We always drove an old car, always wore hand-me-downs; our vacations were simple camping trips. And we were happy, comforted by her being there, content with less because we were rich in our Mother’s love and in our Heavenly Father’s care. 

I meet people that I know and they ask me how do I like staying at home now, how do I like “not working?” And I have to humble myself, bow my pride low before Jesus, answer, think with understanding. Have I ever “worked” harder in my life? When my goals were purely academic, did I even burn the midnight oil then as I do now?—when my baby cries for the sixth, for the seventh time and it is 5am and I am bone-weary? Because before my goals were for myself, my work was towards self-advancement—now, it is bent towards the welfare of another life. It is difficult to lay myself down, consistently, day-in and day-out—and in my humanness, I often complain; I don’t do it perfectly. It is difficult to lay oneself down in a society screaming for self-realization, self-fulfillment, and a “you deserve it” mentality. 

I love my baby, and it is because I love her that I lay myself down—as every mother does, through the sleepless, fitful nights, through the colic, through the fussiness, through the sickness, through the helplessness of these small ones, these tiny infant souls. 

And they say to me “I wish that I could do that; stay at home with my baby; you must be very financially secure.” 

Is money the answer to everything? Is worldly security the answer to a life of joy? Do I tell them that my husband and I share a car--an old car, that we very rarely travel, that we eat beans and a lot of spaghetti? That my clothing comes from consignment shops, that we can’t afford K-cups, that I don’t “get my nails done.” Or do I humble myself and smile and try to live before them a life that is different, the life that the Father has called me to at this time, and that only by the grace of God . . . ? 

Is it “wrong” for a woman to pursue her own goals, apart from raising her children, apart from her family? Is it wrong for a woman to seek a job, seek a career, spend her time chasing, self-fulfilling? Only the individual can answer that question before God, in the quiet conscience of her heart. And there are varying situations which may call for varying answers of how this may work itself out . . . but the question always comes, the piercing question—Am I laying myself down? Am I sincerely following the Father’s leading upon my life or the pattern that society has laid before me, imposed upon me, backed my conscience into a corner with? Am I empty, ready to be filled with joy? Or am I so “full” of this world’s treasures and comforts that I don’t even comprehend what real joy is? “He who would follow Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow . . .”(Matthew 16:24). “He who would seek to save his own life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will find it . . .” (Matthew 16:25). “He who gives up houses and lands in this life . . .” (Matthew 19:29).

What am I doing with my life, the life that the Son of Man has entrusted to me, the Son of Man who had no place to lay His head? And will it matter for eternity—and for a life of joy in the now? Every man, every woman has to answer that question before the Father. 

But I want what I am doing to matter, not to be burned up as chaff on that Great Day. And my soul cries out to hear those words spoken to me, through the blood of Christ—“Well done, thou good and faithful servant . . .” For this is joy realized and tasted; this is life and glory. 

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