Monday, July 23, 2018

Finding Joy In Light of Events Soon to Come

“...Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper! You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalms 30:10-12, NKJV”

As many of you know, I traveled east with my oldest brother, Dave, last summer and fall so that I could visit with my mom and youngest brother, Kenn in Tennessee and then attend my grandson’s wedding in Kentucky in late September. I arrived back in Carson City, Nevada October 4th.

In early November the Lord started telling me that I needed to go back to Tennessee because my little brother was dying of liver cancer. I knew that God was right, I needed to go, but I had no funds to pay the way and my RV van conversion was in need of some major repairs to make it roadworthy once more. So I began praying and preparing for this new chapter of my life. He didn’t give me a “leave by” date, so I planned for a spring departure in early April so that I could be there by my birthday on the 21st. This would give me time to save some money to have the repairs done on the van and stock it with all the necessities of life for the trip.

Well, April came and went without bringing the funds needed for the trip east, so I continued to wait, pray and prepare. God had supplied the money needed to fix the van in early December, so I kept busy going through my things, deciding what I needed to take and what could be given away and stored for later.

December also lent itself to my seeking help from our local U.S. Senator to get my long-awaited Disability back pay released to me to finance my trip. With the help of Catherine Cortez Masto's office, I received this payment in mid-May … nearly two years after having been awarded my Social Security Disability. So I started making plans in earnest to leave Nevada for Tennessee. I set the date for Sunday afternoon, May 20th, after church and our fellowship lunch.

I was able to travel through places I had never been and spend time with a friend in Branson, MO, too. I loved the time spent with Tina and the kids. I was blessed with a home cooked meal, shower and a comfortable bed in their home Friday, May 25th. The trip took me a week, I arrived at mom and Kenn’s home on Sunday afternoon, May 27th.

I have been here helping mom with the house and meeting Kenn’s needs for nearly two months now. I am working on finding my place in the community and the local body of believers. But God is very, VERY good. He gives me songs in the night and eases my mind.

This morning, July 17, 2018, my mother shared with me her prayers for Kenn. She said that she has been praying that if God was going to heal him, to do it soon. But if not, to let him begin his rest and be at peace. Listening to her, I thought of my recent prayers. Mine centered on her. I have been asking the Lord to give my mom peace and comfort.

This afternoon, as I was running some errands in town, I prayed again for my mother. I prayed that the Lord hear and answer her prayers and give her peace and rest.
This evening, as I was doing my daily Bible reading in [Isaiah 51:1-Isaiah 54:3, I couldn’t read these verses without singing the choruses contained therein.

As music is a part of my very being, I couldn’t help myself … I sang what I heard echoed deep in my soul and my heart filled with Great Joy in Jesus my Lord. The songs in this portion of the book of Isaiah [Therefore the Redeemed of the Lord, Put on the Garment of Praise, and Our God Reigns] and one not found in these chapters, but is a theme that runs throughout the Bible [Arise and Sing, you Children of Zion] are still ringing in my ears, especially the last one. Let me share those words with you:

                                    Arise and sing, you Children of Zion
                                    For the Lord has delivered thee.
                                    Arise and sing, you Children of Zion
                                    For the Lord has delivered thee.

                                    Open up your hearts and rejoice before Him
                                    Open up your hearts and rejoice before Him
                                    Open up your hearts and rejoice before Him
                                    For the King is our God!
It was in the singing of these scriptures that I felt God impress upon me that it was time. Time to let Him turn my mourning into His precious joy.

After reading the words and letting them flow through my mind, through my soul, way down deep into my very heart of hearts – into the very throne room where Jesus reigns; how could I allow sorrow and mourning back in?

The passage in Psalms that I quoted above states that He, Jesus, turns our mourning into dancing. He has ripped off our “sackcloth” and clothed us in His joy and gladness. But, He can’t do these things if we tie His hands up in our grief. We have to “let Him in.” We have to allow Him to access to our grief, pain, and suffering so that He can share the burden and give us His peace (Ephesians 2:14) and rest (Deuteronomy 5:14, Matthew 11:28-30).

Have you ever thought about the words Matthew used in the passage I referenced above? I have. Let me share a few things I have learned from this setting of scripture:

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30, KJV.

Jesus is calling all those who labor under a heavy load or burden to ‘take up His yoke.’ So what is a yoke and how do you take it up? In agricultural cultures, before mechanized farm equipment was invented, farmers used teams of cattle, horses, or mules to pull their plow and other equipment used to prepare their fields for growing crops. They would place them in pairs, hooked together with a yoke. Jesus is asking us to share OUR load … OUR burden with Him.

When farming was so primitive, and a farmer bought a new ox, etc. to pull his plow, he would yoke an older animal to the new one so that it would learn how to read the farmer’s signals from the older animal’s experience. Thus, Jesus, our Head Shepherd, has requested that we take up our position in His yoke so that we can learn from Him our position in the team and how to ‘hear’ the Father’s signals and commands.

When we walk with Jesus as our teacher and yoke mate, we have opened our hearts to hear from the Father all that He wants us to know. We also allow His joy to lift our burden and lighten our hearts and minds … thus our mourning can now be turned into dancing and He is able to clothe us in His Great Joy. Yoked together with Jesus we can …

            Break forth into joy, oh my soul
            Break forth into joy, oh my soul
            In the presence of the Lord, there is joy forevermore
            Break forth, break forth into joy, oh my soul!


            God has turned my mourning into dancing for me
            God has taken my sackcloth
            God has turned my mourning into dancing for me
            I will ever praise His name.

Yes, as Solomon once said,
“To every thing, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance …” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, KJV

As David said in Psalm 30:12, NKJV, “To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

So when your burden is heavy, take the time to mourn. But remember Jesus is waiting for you to take up His yoke and allow Him to help you to shoulder your load. He will lighten the burden and turn your mourning into dancing, filling your heart with His great Joy in the process!