Last week, I blogged about how 2019 ended for my family. The death of my brother and father, just a few short weeks apart, shook us to the core, but we are still standing.
But not on our own, mind you.
Our Savior is holding us up. Taking us gently under His wing and holding us so close that we can hear His heartbeat.
I love this Beth Moore quote from her study, “Jesus the One and Only,”
“Christ Jesus longs to draw us under the shelter of His wings – so close to His side that we can hear His tender heartbeat. He yearns to lavish us with His possessive, protective love. To cover us from so many unnecessary harms. There is a secret place. Go beloved, and hide.”
Years ago, I wrote this in my Bible and have often referred back to it. These last few weeks, though, I have held fast to the Word and to Jesus Himself.
Yes, the end of 2019, was an ending that no one fathomed, but 2019 also brought some great, memorable moments!
Answered Prayers, Guidance, and A Lot of Fun and Laughter!
For myself, I applied and was accepted as a Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies small group leader. This was an answer to a prayer that I journaled about in 2017. Careerwise – I applied and was accepted to Ann Swindell’s “Writing with Grace,” a mastermind course for writers. Completely shocked that I was accepted; through this, I have grown tremendously as a writer.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and submitted my written work to various publications, and while I received rejections, the feedback that I received was encouraging.
For our oldest son Grant, scoring a perfect score on the ACT and being accepted into his first college choice, Baylor University, topped his year off. He has also joined the workforce, working at Chick-fil-A three days a week.
Our youngest son, Connor, joined the track team as a shot-put and discus thrower. He never participated in track before this past season – stepping out in faith and enjoying every minute of it. He also traveled to Tennessee and Colorado for hiking with a group of students from the school. If you asked Connor what his favorite highlight of the year was, it would be getting his driver’s license and bagging a buck during the youth hunt weekend.
While Craig had one of his most challenging years in crop insurance, he enjoyed hunting for the first time with a bow and hanging out with us. Our little family had a lot of laughter, and we are all pretty competitive in UNO and SkipBo!
The Joy of the Lord is My Strength
Through this season of grief, I have found myself running toward the Word, instead of away from it. Many times, I don’t know even where to turn in my Bible, but the Lord always provides a comforting verse.
One particular verse that comes to mind is Nehemiah 8:10.
After years of upheaval, turmoil, captivity, and disobedience to the Lord, the Israelites were finally returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and the wall around Jerusalem. The Lord had called upon Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah, who were His faithful servants. Not only did these men lead the people in the rebuilding of the sacred sights, but they also led the Jewish people in prayer and reading of Scripture.
The Book of Nehemiah records the rebuilding of the wall (which, by the way, was rebuilt in 52 days!) and the prophet Ezra reading the law.
It’s important to note: Nehemiah wasn’t a prophet or even a spiritual leader. He was a common man. A man of great character, persistence, and prayer. A man on a mission to bring glory to the Lord.
At the beginning of chapter 8, we read that the people asked Ezra to bring out the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Bible.) The people craved to hear the Word – much like me, with this valley that I am in!
To ensure that the people fully understood what was being read to them, the Levites explained the meaning of each passage. The people openly wept after hearing how they had fallen away from the Lord. This is where Nehemiah boldly says,
“Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
As I navigate through this valley of grief, I am finding my joy in the Lord! He is giving me the strength to get through the days, especially on the days when I want to curl up on the couch and cry.
You can have the joy of the Lord as your strength also! We are all going through something in our lives. Whether it’s an illness, grief, anxiety, depression – the list can go on and on. We are all going through something. I encourage you to lift your eyes to the Lord and seek to find that joy!