Occupied with JOY

First of all, I can not possibly express in blog-form the love I felt on Monday morning as I sat at my office desk reading all the special things people wrote. If you could only each know the emotional bedlam I was trudging through just days before! You are each a dear and wonderful blessing in my life. And between the blog posts, facebook messages, and emails, I feel incredibly loved. As lame as this is – consider this both a thank you card and a great big hug!

Oh – and I know most of you are already aware, but my sister is pretty great. She knew exactly what I would need to celebrate my birthday and I’m super thankful for her! Now, on to today’s post:)
I guess that kind of ties in with what’s been on my heart lately, which is a little gem of a verse I found tucked in between the apathetic frustrations of Ecclesiastes. Per the advice of Elisabeth Eliot, I’ve been reading through Scripture at a much faster pace and really enjoyed looking at the bigger picture instead of getting caught in semantics and singular words. In any case, I ended up in Ecclesiastes and found myself asking similar open-ended questions.

Then I came to Ecclesiastes 5:20,

“For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.”

Wow. For he will not much remember the days of his life… I tend to get so wrapped up in today’s struggles and embarrassments and frustrations and even my own victories. I’m currently deep into Isobel Kuhn’s account of a missionary couple and their daughter who were the last of China Inland Mission members to escape Communist China.

Being denied food, access to bank accounts, correspondence, and even human interaction are not things easily forgotten. Yet, Arthur and Wilda Matthews spent hours in prayer, “When, Lord, will you provide a way for us? We trust you for our rescue. We trust that you will be our escape and we will wait for you to come.” But, as their time grew longer and the restrictions greater, the couple struggled much in understanding why the Lord had not yet come. Finally, in the midst of their turmoil, a light illumines,

“…it came to Arthur like a flash: the Son had left heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it. Up to now they had been submitting; rather feverishly submitting because they felt they should press His promises “Lord, why dost thou delay? We could be out spear-heading advance into new mission fields! Open the door now, Lord!”

They had been acting like servants who don’t want to do it but have to, because they can’t get out of it. What a different attitude was the Son’s! There came a day … when Arthur and Wilda knelt before the Lord and abandoned themselves to live on in that stinted little kitchen as long as He wished them to. And the peace of God poured in like a flood bringing such joy as they had not known before.

And, though I cannot relate to the harrowing circumstances of Arthur and Wilda (and little Lilah), I can understand that when delighting in the presence of God, the days of our lives fall away and we are left with an all-consuming joy.

It is only when we aren’t looking for God to act as we insist, to perform or orchestrate, to ‘show up’ and change or improve our situation … when we are instead fully prepared to live exactly where He has us … it is then when He keeps us occupied with joy.

I’ll leave it up to you – but I’m sure I’ll take that occupation absolutely any day!

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