Enjoying the Journey!
Well, it is New Year’s Eve and, as the year draws to a close, I have thought about what message I wanted to post. I could recount all the ‘highs & lows’ or any one of the variety of lists that exist for 2012:
· Top Artists
· Top Songs
· Memorable Events
Yet the overwhelming thought that comes to mind as I sit here this morning is – THANKFUL!
I am thankful and enjoying the journey …
finding joy in the journey,
Now, don’t misunderstand me –
The journey has not been perfect (not by any stretch of the imagination) but it has been memorable in that I know that God has been with me every step of the way. Whether those steps were literal in the miles I’ve had to walk every morning to get work or whether they were more symbolic in the steps I have taken to hope again and to envision a reality different than the one I am currently experiencing, there has been this Presence, His Presence, that of my LORD and King.
He has gone before me, walked beside me, watched my back and carried me when necessary. And every step has carried life-lessons. It is amazing the things you think you know until you walk through some additional situations and circumstances that highlight just how much there is still to master.
This year –
I have gained an even greater appreciation for friends and family and even casual acquaintances.
And, if I had to focus on three crucial areas, these would be them:
I have probably laughed more this year than I have in recent years – whether it’s joking with someone at work, listening to my children talk, spending time with friend or even in the middle of praise and worship, I have been touched in ways that can only be expressed with a hearty chuckle or a nose-crinkling snicker. There have been instances where I have gotten a complete abdominal workout just spending an evening with my best friend having coffee. I’ve shed more tears this year from laughing than I have from crying – a nice and welcome change. And my encouragement to others is this: Learn to laugh so hard it hurts! There are enough challenging situations in life … find a way to laugh at, at least a couple of them.
For all the joys – there have probably been just as many instances where my heart has ached for others, as if I had experienced their storm myself. I have had a friend diagnosed with cancer and another (like the little sister I never had) who died because of cancer. My heart has grieved as I have watched friends and acquaintances lose their homes. I have prayed for those who experienced great personal loss due to storms. And my heart has grieved for those who have lost loved ones as a result of senseless violence. More and more, I have found myself thinking about, praying for and crying for others. Long after the headlines have left the newspapers or nightly news, there are still people trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered hearts – people in need of a little bit of compassion. But … compassion requires selfless observation and an investment of time.
One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry was that He frequently allowed what we would consider interruptions but that were a common part of His ministry. It is amazing how many opportunities we have daily to bring comfort and even freedom to others if we will look beyond ourselves. From Thanksgiving to Christmas this year, I experienced 30-days of unexpected blessings. Yet, the greatest of those unexpected blessings were the days that I was able to be an unexpected blessing, by listening to a co-worker, being there for a friend or being an agent of peace in the midst of troubling situations. The encouragement: Keep it simple by … Loving God & Loving People. And know that whether it is a call, a note, a smile or a hug … a little bit of caring goes a very long way.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the caring & compassionate heart. However, it is deeper in that it goes beyond the common concern for a fellow man and focuses on the more unconditional aspects of love. This is where close friends and family come into play. I have placed a much higher premium on my relationships than I do on my comfort levels, my feelings or my pride. It sounds like a simple thing, I know. However, you and I both know that there are countless people who have let a friendship or even family relationship go to the wayside because of a refusal to forgive – because someone would rather hold on to an offense rather than grab hold of a loved one and say, ‘Let’s work this out’. Most people are not even willing to apologize for the things they have done wrong, let alone offer an apology when they feel as though they are the one that has been wronged. Yet, the ability to love and forgive is crucial to having sustained friendships. Employers, friends, children, siblings, spouses and parents will not always do what you desire, yet this is admonishment remains: ‘above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.’ (I Peter 4:8)
Every relationship brings with it the risk of being hurt but it also brings with it opportunities for us to demonstrate just how much of the love Christ is in us – and how desperately we desire to share it with others. ‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.’ (Philippians 2:3-4) This is what Christ modeled for us.
My prayer this morning, is that whatever you have experienced this year, that you will be able to find some joy woven in between the fabric of all those situations and circumstances. I pray that you too have walked away with some areas of focus, ones that are personal to you and the things that you experience. Take the opportunity to recycle the less positive moments – making sure that the pain endured is not wasted but that it becomes something positive – offering hope, encouragement and freedom to someone walking through a similar situation. And by all means, celebrate the joyful moments!
I mean, if you have to go through life anyway … you might as well go through joyfully.
It’s been a great year!
I have enjoyed sharing the joys, the pains, the challenges, the blessings and the growth opportunities.
It’s a pleasure to share my life…
May God bless your life, exceedingly and abundantly!