Thursday, May 30, 2013

Somewhere in the Middle

     Lately, I have felt a little lost in my life. I am putting out applications and trying to find a consistent job. Technically, I have a job as a substitute teacher, but it's summer, so I am not working. I'm not technically unemployed, but I feel like I am. I have countless applications out trying to get a more stable job so that I don't have to wake up at 5:45 every morning to find out if I am working that day or not. I am in transition, and I find that these are the most difficult time for me to be content. I feel like I am just waiting...



     I think if I just knew what I am supposed to be learning then it would be so much easier. Am I supposed to be learning patience, and I need to just keep applying for teaching/tutoring type jobs? Am I supposed to be learning perseverance, and I just need to keep petitioning God and contacting the places I have applied? Am I supposed to be learning trust, and the Lord is going to walk me through a time of rejection? Am I supposed to learn humility, and I should start applying for jobs outside of my educational background? What am I supposed to be learning? Is there even a right answer? Am I supposed to be learning all of these things? (<- Aren't these all nice, religious ways of saying that I wish God would just tell me the result?).

     Obviously, I want the Lord to work like a formula where if I do A & B then, as a result, He will give me C. Clearly, this is not how the Lord works. So rather than being completely frustrated with my life and allowing worry to rule, I am now trying to be content. I am still going to seek a job, but I wont allow my stress and in-between-ness to steal my joy.

     Today, I have been meditating on Philippians 4:11-13 which states,
          Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Oh, how these verses convict me because I am so rarely content. So often are my prayers filled with complaints and jealousy resides in my heart. So often I am ungrateful for God's good gifts, and I refuse to acknowledge how generous the Lord is. How I wish to be rid of this ugliness in my heart!

      Lord, today I am asking that You would give me the strength to be content. When worry comes creeping into my mind, help me to dispel it by focusing on Your faithfulness and goodness. Give me patience so that I may find peace in this transition. Help me to remain obedient to the tasks You have commanded me. Help me to be faithful to Your word, loving to my family, and a good steward of my finances. Give me grace to accept Your good plan.

"Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me"
                         - "Somewhere in the Middle" by Casting Crowns

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Over Flow

     This weekend, I have been overwhelmed by gratitude for the body of Christ. On Friday night, several of Rachel's friends from a sister church put on a benefit concert for her. As a result, they raised over $3,000 for my parents to take Rachel on a vacation and to pay off some of her medical bills. The generosity demonstrated completely astounded me. These young people have only known my sister for about a year or so, but they cared enough about her to organize this event. It was a beautiful celebration of Rachel.

     As Rachel's older sister, I was moved to tears by the love, prayers, and time her friends put into this event. Rachel has never had friends like this before. For most of her life, Rachel has felt left out. Rarely would she complain about it, but occasionally she would express her loneliness to me. As her (overly protective and outspoken) older sister, it made my blood boil when I heard her mocked or when I saw her rejected. But within the body of Christ, she found love.

     This is why we are commanded to be a part of a church body. We need a place to serve, a place to find love, and a place to be built up. We need a place where we can see God working in other people's lives. The world tries its best to tear us a part. We need a place that is home.

     Before her surgery in January, Rachel had helped with the children's choir at our church. These kids love her. They have made cards for her and drawn pictures for her. They love her because she loves them. She is the most compassionate and caring person I know. But, unfortunately, for most of her life, her peers have failed to notice her.

     For years, the cry of my heart has been for her to not only find her value in the Lord, but that her value would be recognized by others in her peer group. I am so thankful for her friends who worked so hard to show her their love. I am thankful for all the people who came to the concert because they care about her. It was a night that I know meant more to her than anyone could imagine or express. And it was far more than a financial blessing to our family. It was a visible expression of the love of God. It was a demonstration of the abundant love of people who have know Rachel. It was a night that screamed at her that her life has made a difference and that she has impacted people in the little things she does.

     My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Deep the Father's Love

        I have been thinking about motherhood a lot lately and about how much I adore my daughter. More specifically, I have been thinking about what I have learned about the character of God since I have become a mother.

     I delight in my daughter. I love to be her jungle-gym even when she is jumping on my stomach. I love getting smacked in the head with my brush because she is "helping" me do my hair. I love that she yells "Mommy" every time I walk into the room. I love when we are ridding in the car and she starts singing, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy." It has become my favorite song. I love that I am now sharing EVERYTHING I own. My drink is hers. My jewelry is hers. She thinks my phone is hers. She is already trying to wear my shoes! I love that she is independent and strong-willed. I absolutely love this child.

     And yet my love is nothing compared to the love of God. I cannot even wrap my mind around how someone could love me more than I love her.

     But then I think about how often I fail her. Lately, when I tell Autumn "no," she will bend over, put her head between her ankles, and start to wail. By about the fifth time in a day that I have seen this tantrum play out, I start to loose my patience. How often do I react in frustration? How often am I selfish with my time? God never responds to me in these sinful ways. Psalm 103:8 says, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." God's love is steadfast. It does not change with emotions, fatigue, or external circumstances. It is constant. When I go to the Lord in prayer with a request, how often do I respond to His answer of "no" by throwing myself on the floor and wailing (metaphorically, of course)? Yet, God never looses His patience with me. How incredible is that?!

     One of my favorite hymns is "How Deep the Father's Love" (I frequently sing this song to Autumn when I put her to bed). The lyrics to the first verse are,
How deep the Father's love for us?
How vast beyond all measure?
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
God gave His Son as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for my sin. I was in awe of this before I became a mother but now this blows my mind! I don't care who you are, I wouldn't let my daughter suffer for you. I don't care what the circumstances are, I would always choose my daughter. But because Jesus is "abounding in steadfast love" for us, He was willing to suffer for us.

     Oh, how this encourages me to strive to be like Christ! I want to love her the way that He does. I want to be like Christ because she mimics me. I pray for her salvation. I pray that she will grow to love the Lord. And I pray that somehow she will see His love in me.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.

"The Love of God" - MercyMe

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Magic Band-Aid

"God works in mysterious ways."
"Everything happens for a reason."

     I have really, truly come to dislike these phrases. I am sure that when people use these phrases they are genuinely trying to offer help, support, or comfort. But all I hear is "I don't know how to rationalize this situation into my view of a kind and merciful God so here is a phrase that still makes me sound religious and full of faith." I know, I know that is super harsh (see previous post about needing to work on grace and compassion). But that is my initial reaction. Why do we feel the need to provide an answer to life's pan in a short, easy to remember phrase?

     I started thinking about this for two reasons. First, I have been told these phrases numerous times over the past months by some of my work acquaintances. Second, I am reading through 1 Kings in my Bible reading plan and the events described in chapter 13 really hit me. In this chapter, a man of God (His name isn't given. He is just call a "man of God.") comes to king Jeraboam and gives a prophecy of destruction  He says he was told by God to deliver the message, return to his land a way other than the way he came, and to not eat or drink anything from the land he journeyed to. Then he sets out for Judah a different way than he came. Meanwhile, an "old prophet" (again, no name given) hears what happened and goes to find the man of God. The prophet tells the man of God that the Lord said it would be alright if he came and ate at the prophet's house. After the man of God ate, the prophet says that the man of God will die on his way home because he disobeyed the Lord. Sure enough, a lion kills the man of God on his way home and the old prophet buries and mourns him.


     The old prophet lies and goes seemingly unpunished and the man of God dies for believing him. Where is the justice? How is that fair?

     Then I have to ask myself, "Whose justice am I desiring? Mine or the Lord's?" Obviously, the answer is my own. I want life to be fair as I see it (which would mean that good things would happen to me and bad things would happen to people who wronged me). Thankfully, God's justice is perfect.

     So, again, I have to sit my heart down and remind myself of some Biblical truths.

1. Physical death is not the worst thing that can happen to an individual. The Bible clearly teaches that there is a real and eternal Hell in which those who have not placed their faith in the Messiah will suffer. For those who have placed faith in the Messiah, death is a gift. It is to be immediately present with the Lord and completely removed from sin. Are the prophet and the man of God both in Heaven? Only the Lord can judge their hearts, but physical death is not the worst thing that can happen.

2. God has the right to demand the life of a sinful individual at any point in time. All people are sinful and the payment we deserve is both physical and spiritual death (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23). So God, as the righteous judge, has the right to take my life at any moment because I am sinful. Death is what I deserve. I was not guaranteed 80 years of life and a peaceful death in my sleep. I broke God's law, so I have earned death.

3. God is gracious. Not only was God gracious by providing a way to have eternal life through Jesus Christ, but any time we have on earth is because of God's grace. We don't deserve it. So can I say to God, "You haven't been gracious enough to my sister. She is only 22, so You can't take her." No, I can't.

     So, yes, "God works in mysterious ways" because "who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?" (1 Cor. 2:16). Yes, "Everything happens for a reason" because "we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). But I wonder how much comfort the man of God's family would have felt if they had been told one of these trite phrases after their family member had died. Would the have said, "At last!! I understand!" Doubtful. So may we all stop looking for the miraculous one-liner that will solve everything. May I stop trying to find the magic band-aid to give to my sister when she text me because she is upset that she will never get married or have children! I need to learn to genuinely "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:2), to "weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15), and to allow myself to be vulnerable so that others can assist. Grief is uncomfortable. Grief is difficult. Grief is ugly. But God is a God of comfort. He will redeem the situations I cannot fix.

     So now I have a question for you, how have other people comforted you in the difficult times of your life?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
2 Corinthians 1:3-6

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Loving Plants More Than People

     My family frequently reminds me that I am not the most compassionate person in the world. I definitely belong to the "rub some dirt in it" school of thought. Now don't get me wrong, if my daughter is hurt then I will drop everything to pick her up and hold her until she is all better. And if someone beats me to her, then I will straight up pry her out of their arms. God has also given me a significant amount of grace with teenagers. I don't know why, but teenagers rarely make me genuinely frustrated.

     But since my sister has been sick, I feel like my little bit of compassion has begun to dwindle. I see people complaining on Facebook and a part of me is tempted to say, "You think you have problems! Look at my life. Look at my sister's life!" It is almost like I have decided that no one else deserves to feel pain or stress because they aren't living with MY problems. It's like I think that I have the corner market on pain and suffering.

     How hard-hearted is that?!

     When did Jesus look at His disciples and say, "Your problems are insignificant"? Sure, He told them that they focused on the wrong things, but even in Gethsemane, He had compassion for their frailty. After finding His disciples sleeping when He had asked them to pray, He said to them, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is week" (Matt. 26:41). Jesus was about to die to make atonement for the world's sin (including His sleepy disciples), and yet, in this time of agony, He recognized their human frailty. It is in passages like this that I am amazed and astounded at the perfection of Jesus. The Lord know that my best response would have probably been "Father,  I will atone for the world... except for my lazy and unfaithful disciples." It is in passages like this where I am confronted with how often spite resides in my heart.

     I was recently reading through the book of Jonah in my devotional time and I was again reminded to be on guard against hard-heartedness. In children's books, the story of Jonah ends with God sparing the repentant city of Nineveh from destruction after Jonah gives them a warning. The people repent and God is merciful.

     But this leaves out the whole ending of the story! After walking through the city while preaching his one sentence sermon, Jonah goes outside the city, sits on a hill, and begins the count down to fire and brimstone. The repentance of Nineveh"displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was angry" (Jonah 4:1), so he begged God to kill him. Instead, God causes a plant to grow to provide Jonah with shade. When God allows the plant to die the next day, Jonah again tells God He is unfair and, again, asks God to kill him. The Lord responds by saying, "You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:10-11). And the book ends. No response from Jonah. Did he remain hard-hearted and continue to whine before the Lord? What he repentant? Indifferent? I don't know. The book ends with the Lord's merciful correction hanging in the air.

    Perhaps, Jonah's response isn't important. Maybe the focus should be how do I respond when I am confronted with my own callousness. Maybe I am supposed to question how I respond when I realize that I love plants or money or comfort or my own self-pity more than other people.

May my heart break for the things that truly matter. Thank you for being gracious and compassionate even though I do not deserve it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Your Love is Extravagant

     Today I want to take a moment to be truly grateful. I want to put aside the mess that is my life to honestly thank God for some of the unearned blessings He has given me. I think one of the hardest verses to genuinely apply to life is 1 Thessalonians 5:16 which simply says, "Rejoice always." It is a very straight forward command, but, if I'm being honest, complaining is just so much easier. So today I want to humbly thank the Lord.

  • I participated in my master's degree graduation ceremony this weekend. Technically, I graduated in December, but my school only does one graduation a year. On Saturday, I was hooded and proclaimed a graduate. I am thankful that God gave me the time and ability to complete my degree. I am thankful that it is OVER! 

  • I am thankful for the women who have shaped my life. Obviously, this weekend was Mother's Day, so I have been thinking about the impact my Mom has had on my life. My Mom is definitely one of those unearned blessings. For several years I treated my Mom with only anger and spite, yet she has continued to love me. While I don't think I will ever be able to remove the sting of words I spoke years ago, I am certainly attempting to deserve my Mom's respect and to demonstrate my love to her.

  • I am thankful for my generous and joyful Mother-in-law. Julie often expresses joy in difficult circumstances, whereas I tend toward cynicism. I am thankful for the way she raised my husband and the love she extends toward my daughter.

  • I am thankful for the other women in my life who have taken the time to walk along side me and guide me in life. There are several women in my church who have known me since childhood and have had a profound impact on the woman I have become. These women have forgiven the person I was and have taken the time to invest in my spiritual growth.

  • I am thankful for my sisters (Yes, I am thankful for my brothers too, but it was Mother's Day, so I have been thinking about women a lot). I have four wonderful sisters who mean the world to me. I have learned about compassion and empathy from my sister Rachel. Her heart truly breaks for others. From my sister Hannah, I have learned to be teachable. Hannah is the most like me in how she responds to situations except she is humble enough to admit when she needs advise and she typically follows that advise. My sister-in-law Katie has taught me about openness and sharing my heart with others. While I tend to push people away and isolate myself during difficult situations, Katie freely shares her heart. From my sister-in-law Dixie, I have learned to delight in my daughter. Each time she looks at her children, her face lights up with pure joy.

  • I am thankful that my side of the family was all together for Mother's Day. I do not know how much longer we will all be together, so I am joyful for every moment the Lord allows us to all be together.

  • I am thankful for my husband. Jacob is truly my best friend. I have known him since I was 13 years old and we were close friends before we started dating. He is the one who has seen my greatest joys and my deepest pains. He is my support because he leads me back to the cross of Christ when I am overwhelmed.

  • I am thankful for my daughter. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a mother, but I never could have imagined how much it would bless my life. My heart melts every time she yells my name as I walk in the room. I cannot express the joy and pride I feel because I am her mother.

     All of these blessings ultimately point me back to my Lord and Savior. James 1:17 reminds us that "every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." Though I did not deserve any of these blessings, the Lord has been generous to me. The Lord is the greatest blessing in my life. It is through Christ that I have freely received salvation. It is the Spirit of the Lord that comforts and directs me. And it is before the Father that I carry my burdens through prayer. I find rest and hope in His promises. In Him, I find my purpose and value in life. It is because of the extravagance of God's love that I have joy.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

For the Moments I Feel Faint

     It is my intention in writing this blog that I would be able to demonstrate the hope I have in Jesus Christ, but, at the same time, that is only possible if I am honest about the struggles I am battling. No one will see the true and genuine compassion of Christ if I have plastic mask over my face because I am afraid of transparency. It is a delicate balance I am seeking to walk. I desperately want to demonstrate the principle of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 when it says, "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." But I am also not an emotionless, stoic "super-Christian."

     There are days when exhaustion overwhelms me because I cannot remember the last time I slept through the whole night because I am plagued by nightmares. Days when no amount of Activia will calm my digestive system because I apparently carry stress in my stomach. Days when my emotions are balancing on a knife-point because of fatigue. Days when my emotions completely get the best of me and I lay my daughter down for a nap so I can "ugly cry" and weep before the Lord. Days I am overcome with pure anger and my heart desires to cry out with Naomi, "call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me" (Ruth 1:20). Days I don't want to read my Bible because I do not want to find comfort. Days I don't want to serve because I don't want to think about anyone other than myself.

     I certainly have my days and to say I didn't would be a lie.

     But it is in my response to these days that the hope of Christ is visible. It is on these days that I must recognize that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9) and I must immediately run to the cross. On these days I must preach the gospel to my own heart and dwell in the truth rather than what I feel. Do I always respond correctly? Of course not! But it is an area in which I am seeking to grow. I do not always get it right but my batting average has definitely increased over the past few months. Some days I drag myself through obedience and I wait for my "want to's" to catch up.

     So I have started reminding my heart of what I know to be true.
1. God is a good and benevolent God who desires what is best for me.
2. God's definition of "what is best" is different than mine, but God's way is right.
3. This awesome and mighty God died on the cross to redeem me from sin.
4. The Lord owns my life because He created me and He purchased my life with His blood.
5. A God who was willing to die for me is not going to treat me with cruelty now.
6. I am not alone because my Lord has promised to "never leave me or forsake me" (Heb.13:5).

     In these truths, I dwell and I find my rest. In these truths, my heart finds comfort. After preaching to my heart, I return to a verse that the Lord has used so many times in my life. "Why are you cast, down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God" (Ps. 42:5). I then agree with David in saying, "But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head" (Ps. 3:3). On the days when I feel like I cannot even lift my head, I remember that the Lord will lift my head up for me.

Never underestimate my Jesus
You're telling me that there's no hope
I'm telling you you're wrong
Never underestimate my Jesus
When the world around you crumbles
He will be strong, He will be strong

- Relient K "For the Moments I Feel Faint"

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don't Stop The Madness

     I cannot express how much Tenth Avenue North's latest album The Struggle has meant to me. I speak music. Music often can change my attitude and give words to the cries of my heart when my own words fail me. I cannot count the number of times I have cried out the lyrics of Tenth Avenue North's song "Worn" as a prayer of my own fatigue and a desperate plea to see my struggle redeemed. The first time I heard "Worn" was the week that my sister was given a terminal diagnosis, so after hearing that song, I quickly got the album. This whole album has comforted me immensely because the lyrics are so deeply rooted in Scripture.

     However, one song on the album was a little difficult for me to listen to. The chorus of "Don't Stop the Madness" says,
Don't stop the madness
Don't stop the chaos
Don't stop the pain surrounding me
Don't be afraid, Lord, to break my heart
If it brings me down to my knees

When I first heard this song, my heart reviled against this message. Everything in me cries, "Stop the pain! Don't break my heart! Why is there so much chaos? Why don't You protect me?" In so many ways, this song is NOT the prayer I voice to God. But then I quietly am reminded of the saying I have heard in so many sermons, "God is more concerned with my character than my comfort." It amazes me how different God's priorities are from my own. I am often reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 when it says,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Hallelujah! What a promise! I hardly ever know what is going on in life. How wonderful it is that God is in control even when I am completely clueless!

     While I would prefer for God to work great and mighty works in my life while I sit comfortably surrounded by earthly happiness and success, God rarely does things the way I would prefer them. Instead of saying, "I will make you comfortable," the Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). It is grace that we are promised and the result of this promise is followed by a declaration of peace in spite of pain. Paul then says, "For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). It is when I am broken and I have nothing left to give that God's glory is clearly shown.

     This same theme is displayed in Hebrews 12. I don't know if I have just been completely unobservant or what, but in all the times I have read about "being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) I never noticed that those witnesses all experienced trauma and tragedy. This verse comes directly after Hebrews 11:32-40 a long list of horrible persecutions people experienced. It is because of these examples and the example of Christ's pain that we are encouraged to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). We run because Gods' grace is able to make us strong enough to continue.

     So on a day when I watched my youngest sister break down... "My grace is sufficient for you." When I listened to my other sister bawl through "I Surrender All" because she knows that she is dying... "My grace is sufficient for you." And my response needs to be to press on.

     In the last chorus of "Don't Stop the Madness" the last two lines of the chorus change. It says,
Do whatever it takes to give me Your heart
And bring me down to my knees, Lord

Yes, I will still pray for healing and deliverance. But, regardless of how God works, it is my deepest prayer that God will give me the grace to say "Amen" to His decision.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Desiring Heaven

     Because I grew up as a pastor's daughter, I have gone to church about three times a week for my whole life. So for as long as I can remember, I have known that this earth is not really my home. Rather, Heaven is the home that I look forward to. The Bible states that because I have placed my faith in the cross of Christ my citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). Growing up, I knew about the promises of Heaven and I could have answered all the Sunday School questions about Heaven.

     But there is a huge difference between knowing something and it being a reality in your life. All my life I have heard people talk about "longing for Heaven," but I never really understood why. Yes, I wanted to be in the Lord's presence and I wanted the removal of suffering. However, in many ways I was completely content here on earth. There were too many things that I wanted to do and experience on earth that I really wanted Heaven to hold off.

     Since my sister's diagnosis, I have been contemplating this idea of longing for Heaven. It has only been recently that I have really come to understand how painful life is. I have been reading through a book by Kevin DeYoung called The Good News We Almost Forgot which basically overviews the essential beliefs of the Christian faith (By the way, I love DeYoung's books. I read Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church a few years ago, and I am also currently reading Freedom and Boundaries). In his book he states, "Joy is always mingled with pain. Delight is always interrupted by suffering." Sin and pain truly taint every experience. My marriage to my husband is wonderful, but we still fight. My daughter is a huge blessing in my life, but I frequently fail her as a mother. I experience great joy when she hugs me and great frustration when she can only seem to say "no."

     During my student teaching, my students were supposed to write a paper about an event that impacted their lives. As a result, I received papers that recounted horrible events and a tremendous amount of pain. I was frequently brought to tears grading these papers, and at the end my heart cried "This is not how life was intended!"

     So lately I have been thinking about what pure joy is really like. I have experienced a great deal of joy and happiness in my life, but all of that is a glimpse of what is to come. What will an eternity be like where I am not only in the presence of my Lord, but joy will finally be made complete? What will it be like to experience joy the way that God does? Joy will no longer be tainted by selfish or prideful motivations or by difficult circumstances. I cannot even imagine. So now I groan with creation (Rom. 8:22) for the removal of sin. And I am actively remembering that I am a citizen of Heaven so that I will remember to act like it. May I represent my Lord well.