It’s just about time for my two nieces and I to make our 5th Annual We 3 Queens Toast! Every year we bring in the New Year together with a special *clink*. We count on God to give at least one of us a word for the New Year and then with little pinkies sticking out and with our best English accents we say… “Ahem…yes…yes…CHEERS….here here…Lovey please…etc” to our word for the year. So in the midst of our crazy JOY comes this word that sets us off on a Divine Adventure. Even though we share things through humor we all seem to have a sense when the word for the year may be learned through tough trials.
One year we toasted to “the Joy of the Lord is our Strength.” I am now calling it BraveHeart Joy because it was the kind of joy that was learned through battles!! It was a year of seeing our enemies outnumber us and instead of running away…we faced them with unflinching faith, took off in a full sprint directly towards them and yelled on the top of our lungs….. “FREEEEEEDOOOM……” It seemed humanly impossible to win freedom in these areas that were beating us down but not only did God say we would win…He said we were meant to walk in JOY …AND … it would be our Strength. If we weren’t walking in joy and strength then this was our year to get there. So instead of a happy, skippy present wrapped in a fancy bow…it came with battle armor. We unwrapped the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit, shield of faith and chose to Rejoice…anyway.
This is the amazing thing I discovered….when you’re facing the worst, the annoying, the frustrating, the mundane, the numb, the crippling…and God is telling you you’re meant to walk in Joy and Strength….it’s going to seem like a slap in the face at first. Unreasonable. “But God, how do you expect me to be “joyful” when…etc” But then you clinch your jaw, paint your face, gargle with some salt water and YELL….THANK YOOOOOOOU JESUS!!!!! Thank you that we’re going to WIN this today! Thank you, that you’re creating in me unwavering strength and character so that I may be free. Thank you that through this battle you’re bringing me to higher ground where my enemies can’t touch me! And you know all those annoying, crippling, fearful, numbing things I mentioned? You know those enemies that outnumbered me?….THANK YOU FOR SETTING ME FREE from them! Thank you for Waking Me Up so that I might truly LIVE and feel ALIVE in this world. THANK YOU FOR YOUR FREEEEEEEDOM!!!! Then you’ll be astonished when you find yourself in the midst of the same Braveheart Battle laughing and crying and amazed that you no longer even see your enemy. You don’t even care about how big they were in this moment because God’s Loving Adventure is bigger than the pain, the fear, the problems. This is what I mean by BRAVEHEART joy!
Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, CROWNED WITH everlasting JOY. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
The thing that is so amazing about God…is that we –get- to win and have Joy in the face of battles. He’s not asking us to face something difficult and be faux thankful for the plants and trees…we can rejoice because he takes away the sting of death and sets us above our enemies! We can rejoice knowing God will set us free. And when we’re at our lowest, we can hold onto the hope…-knowing- God will turn our ashes into something beautiful. But even though we know God will come through for us…it doesn’t mean we get to skip the battle, know what I mean? I’m good at thinking I’m putting it in God’s hands when I’m really just ignoring it and letting fear fester. Just don’t be afraid to stop and really look to God…bring your heart to Him and let him show you the way. God has all kinds of battle plans (worship, praying, waiting, thanking…etc). But it’s through the battles that God crowns us with JOY!!! That’s when we understand Joy as Strength. Because He did it …He won…So We Won…and we get to walk away free. Talk about a reason to Rejoice! The joy of the Lord is our Strength!
So, the words God gives We 3 Queens continues to grow through the years and this one on BraveHeart Joy has become so big in my life this past year. It actually went hand in hand with our 2011 word which God gave to my niece Sarah -> God has a special surprise for us this year and CHEERS to discovering it.
We all three felt excited knowing we were off on another adventure and all wondering!! Wondering what this would mean for each of us. Isn’t it fun to Wonder about good things?
Anyway, there were so many things that happened in my world this past year but I’m smiling because I just discovered the SURPRISE. This is it…get ready…. ->
God gave me the gift of EXTRAORDINARY.
Let me explain. It was an incredibly challenging year and I faced many Big Girl lessons. The adventure this year required more faith, joy and strength than I thought imaginable. So many great things but all riddled with frustrations and difficult heights. My every step forward came with non-stop hits. But I couldn’t believe how God was using JOY to challenge me, spur me on and strengthen me to win so many battles. I was blown away by the connection between Joy and Strength. But the last couple of months…I have been exhausted. Battle Weary. I gave in to the frustrations, I let bitterness take root and I felt generally negative and I was too tired to care. God would have probably given me rest…but I chose my own way before I could find that out. Wow, how quickly we fall. I was complaining, I mean praying, to God about all of it. Then it hit me!!!!!! My reactions to EVERYTHING…WERE COMPLETELY NORMAL. I WAS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED!!!
And then God dropped this thought in my mind, “But I didn’t call you to a path of Normal…I called you to a Beautiful Adventure. You have two paths in front of you: Normal and Extraordinary. You don’t become Extraordinary in easy, peaceful times…so this is Your Moment…This is your moment to choose Extraordinary. You can choose to walk away with all the bitter ashes…most people would. It would be pretty normal and even understandable. But I’m handing you the gift of Extraordinary. This is your moment. Go on…open it. You’re gonna love it.”
God’s not minimizing my pain or exhaustion…he knows it’s hard…but He’s got a twinkle in his eye….and maybe a sparkling crown behind his back. He’s handing me a gift. *Surprise*
It may be normal to get to that bitter place throughout your journey…Just Don’t Stop There….Keep Going…. Search for the hidden treasures. Find the rest and strength God has for you. Look for the sparkling jewels hidden in hard times…they’re the ones that will turn your life into a beautiful adventure…into something extraordinary.
So for 2012- CHEERS to an EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURE.
God give us strength to walk this path and say ‘yes’ to your gift. May you turn our ashes and battle scars into something truly BEAUTIFUL. It’s so astonishing the ways You bring Beauty into our world. May it shine on our faces and in our smiles this year so that others might be uplifted by it…even for a moment.
Love you guys, Missy
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the Crown of Life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(NLT) Romans 5: Faith Brings Joy
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
(NIV) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials (rejoice in suffering) for we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.