I will admit, it has been a while since I have posted. I could say that I’ve been busy, which I have. I could say that life recently has been stressful, which it has. However if I was honest with myself, a large reason why I have not posted is because my heart just hasn’t been in it recently. I’ve been waiting for some fire of inspiration to burn inside my chest but I’ve come to realize that hardly do we ever find what we were never seeking.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about God’s presence. It’s easy to read about when you’re living in the peaks of life. When God has raised you up and you feel so far above the chaos of this world, it takes very little effort to feel His arms around you. Life isn’t always lived in the mountains though. With every stretch of mountains comes a stretch of valleys and it is in those valleys that we must remember what we should be seeking.
I am a worrier by nature. More often than not if I encounter a large bout of stress from school, friends or other commitments, worrying is my first reaction. If I’m not careful, it sort of becomes like an autopilot system where I go though life jumping from one horrible conclusion to the next. I’ve gotten deeper into the first semester of the school year and like every school year, the classes have gotten harder and the workload has gotten larger. I’ve gained more friends but with friendships comes the occasional drama. My little worrying self was getting more overwhelmed by the day till finally God decided to give me a wake up call.
I was spending one night with my friends, just talking, when all of a sudden I felt very tired. Now I’m a college student, so naturally being tired is something you just get used to. This was a different kind of tired though, like I had gone a week straight without sleep kind of tired. I lost almost all physical strength to stand or walk and couldn’t speak without slurring my words. I was taken to the hospital and spent the next 5 hours or so getting blood work and a head scan. I went back to the dorm with the slim knowledge that everything looked okay, but that I may have had a small seizure due to lack of sleep and extreme amounts of stress.
I may worry a lot, but I had never experienced anything that could compare to that night before. God used this as a not so gentle reminder to rely on Him to take care of me in the good times and especially in the harder times, because we just weren’t created with enough stamina to rely only on ourselves.
Just yesterday, I heard the news that my cousin had gotten into a very serious car accident and had been rushed to the hospital in critical condition. I started to fear for his life and worry what my family must be going through as they sat in the hospital, while I was all the way in Indiana. I took a long walk and the prayers of some good friends of mine to compose myself. One of those friends decided to ask me a question that night and it’s been stuck in my head since then: Do you feel joy?
Until then I hadn’t realized how public my anxiety had been and began to realize that in the midst of this valley of my life, maybe I had forgotten to show the joy that God has given me. It’s not that my joy had vanished when I transitioned from mountain to valley, because nothing can take away the joy that God gives us through salvation. I just forgot to continually seek out and represent examples of the joy that God has given me. It’s much easier to express joy when the conditions of life are what we would consider favorable, but when we walk into a valley where the sun doesn’t always shine as bright, it’s not so easy.
“You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
Even though our path of life goes off into a valley, I can still have a “fullness of joy” because I know that God will always be there for me. The last verse of “In Christ Alone” also expresses that not matter what happens in this life, nothing can take our joy away.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
I’ve decided that to keep myself on track and constantly be reminded of why I have joy, I have a mason jar that I’ve dubbed my “Joy Jar.” Every time I find a reason to have joy, I write it on a piece of paper. When my jar becomes full, I’ll be able to look back through on all the blessings God has given me. I am committed to making joy a consistent part of my walk through this valley and for the rest of my journey.