The air was crisp and the water near freezing; yet the sun was shining, and so the conditions were more than tolerable.
As I practiced casting, the line flowing backward and forward…backward and forward…backward and forward… my whole being was fixated on exactly what I was doing in the moment.
As the line hit the water’s surface, I watched and waited for it to bob under, expectant that I would set the line at any moment. After all, the guide had walked me out to what he knew to be the best rock to stand on. While I had just met him hours before, I trusted his judgment on all things fly fishing- he was the guide after all. Sure enough, within only a few minutes, the fish began to come. It was the first day I can remember that I didn’t think about a single thing other than the present; and it was exhilarating and soul-giving.
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say it, rejoice.- Philippians 4:4
My favorite word in the above verse small and subtle: in. Rejoice in the Lord. Not, rejoice over the circumstances. Not even, rejoice in the past, present or future. No. Rejoice in the Lord.
I realize my presence on social media has lessened some in recent days. Some of it is circumstantial- between seizures and medications and sickness, my independent moments have been far and few between outside of personal nourishment from God’s Word. Another part of it has been intentional. I am really looking towards the next book- the ideas the Lord has weighed on my heart combined with study of Truth and what His Word really says. I also have really been asking God to show me what joy should look like in the life of a Christ-follower. I choose to be nothing but authentic both in my tangible life and on the blog as well; and obviously enough I am sure, my heart has been in a heavy place for some time now. Between David and Job, I believe with all my heart that wrestling with God and bringing all our emotions to Him is crucial for a healthy relationship with Him; yet, time and time again, God calls us to rejoice. So, what does that look like in the midst of trials and suffering?
It’s written nine times in the Bible, this word, rejoice. Outside of one command in Proverbs to rejoice in the wife of your youth, every instance is about rejoicing in God and His eternal plans; most of the exhortations in the midst of the hard.
Psalm 118:24 commands us to rejoice in that day that Jesus became the cornerstone of our faith by being rejected by man and hanging on a cross to die in order to be resurrected.
Psalm 16:9 mentions rejoicing because of the very fact that He is now at the right hand of the Father and has saved us from ourselves.
1 Corinthians 13:6 exhorts us to rejoice with the Truth and that alone.
Luke 1:47 gives us the example of Mary rejoicing in God’s plans for her in spite of logic.
2 Corinthians 6:10 shows us how many rejoiced in suffering because of Christ.
Romans 12:15 encourages us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, thereby putting others’ completely above ourselves.
Finally, Acts 5:41 displays the disciples rejoicing based on the sheer fact that they had been found worthy enough to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.
Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
Never once does the Word tell us to rejoice in our circumstances, or in our personal sanctification, or even in our prayers that were answered in the way we had hoped. No. Rejoice in Him and His ultimate plans for His children.
I want to be a woman who rejoices well. I desire to find joy in the things that God finds joy in. If you are reading this, I have a feeling that somewhere deep inside, that’s what you want, too. Today, I want to encourage us that God is pleased when we simply choose to find joy in what He is doing both in our lives and in the lives of others. He is pleased when, even in spite of the tangible, we fix our eyes on the unseen. The beautiful part of this is that when we rejoice in what is seen with the power of the Holy Spirit, asking to see through heavenly lenses, our joy becomes more authentic and our faith more concrete; for we will begin to see things as they really are. Jim Elliot once said, ‘He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’. Even the best of circumstances on this earth are fleeting. But God. His kingdom is eternal and when we are choosing to filter our moments through this reality, we will in fact begin to rejoice in ways that we never thought were possible. Today, in the midst of whatever you are walking through, I pray that you rejoice in Him and Him alone. He is the Guide who will never fail you. His vision is exact, His perspective wide, His purpose perfect. All glory be to Him today and forevermore.