“You shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and the hills will break forth into songs before you. There will be shouts of joy and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12
I left him at home yesterday, my personal Cinderella, with a list that if not digital, would have curled under like a scroll. Our black sporty car zoomed past town on auto pilot and I slowly recognized hmmmm, I was actually smiling! Smiling? On the great dreaded day pulling away from 10 years of friends and memories and a yellow cottage a few blocks from the Lake, a smile was bubbling up?
Thank You God for life-bursting sunshine. Sunshine that spreads across a farm field like a blanket for a lazy summer day.
I was alone, gloriously alone, driving long black lines of interstate towards my in-laws home tucked into mid-Ohio forest. For these last three days of packing and moving out, the children had been safely cocooned at grandparents’ camp, their days packed with joy. I was now joining them for a kids’ carnival at a country church where Grandpa would be manning the duck booth.
But for now, in this pristine moment, I was driving…alone and six hours lay before me.
Thank You Abba that I can pray out loud, put the window down and sing loud to the radio and for books on tape, one of the great luxuries of a mom reader who doesn’t have time to read.
This joy was building, being built on a scaffolding of one thanks upon another.
Thank You God for Grandparents who love these three with bird-watching outings and putput golf and a Tupperware cake bin filled with chocolate chip cookies and bobbers in the water waiting for fish.
And thank You God for that last sunset, the sun slipping behind the lighthouse, and being protected from the Lake’s northern wind, warm and tucked inside Andrew’s parka. Thank you for an impromptu good bye from dear friends also coming to drink beauty. Then thank You for unabashed joy sitings: “I’m walking on sunshine” played at the marina by some leftover 90’s band and we watched groups of people dancing at the waters edge.
And Oh, I hadn’t thought of this but thank You God for my first day of Sabbatical. No sermon to plan for, no small group study to lay out, no one to visit at the nursing home. And while I truly TRULY adore each person God gives us to do ministry with, I was shocked when it came to actually driving out of town, I sighed with the thought of upcoming rest.
And friend, I don’t know what You do with joy, but my joy began singing. Operatically even. And yes, I know that you probably don’t do this, but yesterday I could because I was in the car alone and there were no children covering their ears and rolling their eyes and yelling, “MOM,” in THAT tone. So I started my vocalizations and then feeling my way through Handel’s: “Come unto Me all ye that labor. Come unto Me ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And ahhhh, yes. Thank You. I wasn’t just going out, I was coming toward, because He is before me and I can take steps into His arms.
I had dreaded this day, the pain and the tears and the ten years of memories all piled and pasted on each other like decoupage art.
I had unconsciously sculpted my own future, nursed expectations of overcoming grief.
Weeks before, I had painted the day in chiaroscuro shadows when how could I have forgotten that He, the Giver of all good gifts, was holding the paint brush?
And now sunshine and opera, a hot green tea, an empty car and now, sumptuous surprise… I had gone out laden with God’s gifts of joy, one thanks built upon each other.
And you, friend, what thanks do you have to build a day of joy with? Oh do share.
And friend, if you have not read Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts,” this is the time. Whatever stuff you are mired in, transitions you are making or the slow lagging pain you are coping with, you NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. And if you are moving like me…make your way slowly toward chapter 8 and savor slowly. Trust does not come easily to any of us, but if our trust is built on step by step of seeing God faithfulness and marking it with thanksgiving? This is a bridge we can walk across.