The Source of All My Joy

"I could tell they had something I didn't have. I knew they were different than me. And I was willing to do whatever it took to be like them."

It was the summer of 2011. There I was, sitting in a circle with some of my camp friends at Sky Ranch Christian Camp in Powderhorn, Colorado. God's mountains surrounding me, faithful friends by my side, and the Word of God before my eyes...It can't get much better than this, I thought. My friends and I were deep in conversation, each taking the time to explain how she came to know the love of the Lord.

"I could tell they had something I didn't have." My ears perked up as soon as these words left Maggie's mouth. "For so long, my life was filled with sadness and meaninglessness. But their lives? Now, their lives were much different. There was something different about them. They had a joy that I didn't have. They loved life in a way that I didn't."

Who were these people so filled with joy? Christians. My dear friend Maggie noticed that the Christians she knew had a certain kind of happiness that she couldn't seem to find. When she eventually came to know the love of the Lord, she found that same happiness, and today she lives each day with the fullness of Christ's joy.

My beautiful friend Maggie, who is so filled with the joy of the Lord.

Everyday I wear a key to symbolize that God is the key to life. (For the story behind my key, read this...http://thehungerandthirst.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-key-to-life.html). God is the key to freedom, to love, to peace, to joy. So if you're looking for joy, you'll find it in Jesus. If you're looking for fulfillment, you'll find it in Jesus. Peace of mind? Strength? Patience? Satisfaction? It's all found in one place and one place only: at the foot of the cross of Christ.

I'll be completely honest: college is HARD. As a freshman in college, new temptations I've never really experienced before have attacked me from all different directions. It's completely overwhelming at times, and now and then I feel as if I've lost sight of who I am. This past week, for the first time in a long time, I came to the foot of the cross and surrendered everything to Jesus. It was such a good feeling, being back in His arms again. Nothing on this planet could ever compare to the way I feel when I am with Jesus. This week, I've fallen in love with Jesus all over again. After weeks of straying from His will and finding myself so caught up in my own desires, I've finally found Him again. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

One night this week, I was praying in front of the Grotto on campus (which is the most BEAUTIFUL place in the entire world...), and I found myself crying out to Jesus for His love. I felt broken and lost, and I missed His embrace so much. I was confused as to why He had been so absent in my life the first few weeks of college, compared to how present He was in my life over the summer. In the midst of my plea for His love, He said these words to me, clearly and directly: "Where have you been? I've been here this whole time." I was so caught up in myself and my own desires that I quickly fell into the lie of believing that Jesus would ever leave me.

Yet what we must realize is that our God is a jealous God. (Don't believe me? See Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 6:15.) When we turn from His love, He will literally do anything to get our attention back. He is jealous for us; He longs for our affection. And in the same way, growing in His grace and His goodness, we come to HUNGER and THIRST for His affection. This results in a romantic relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord, a relationship so powerful and so moving, that no other relationship on this planet could ever compare.

I want to take a moment to thank a very dear friend of mine. As I mentioned earlier, these first few weeks of college have been so unbelievably exciting and fulfilling, but at the same time, overwhelming. I've found myself falling more in love with the desires of the world, and less and less in love with Jesus. Thankfully, Jesus has blessed my life with my beautiful friend named Sophie. I met Sophie two years ago, and today we are fortunate enough to attend Notre Dame together. Through the struggles of these first few weeks, Sophie has reminded me of who I am. She has reminded me that the desires of this world are so unbelievably temporary...but as for the love of the Lord? There's nothing better. Sophie, thank you for reminding me of my sweet redeemer Jesus. Thank you for reminding me that Jesus is the rock to which my soul clings, that Jesus is the reason for my every breath, and Jesus - and only Jesus - is the source of all my joy.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Song of the week: "Your Love is a Song" by Switchfoot

Sophie and I on our last day of high school.
Sophie, thank you for reminding me that Jesus and only Jesus is the source of all my joy.

Comments

  1. Haley, I love this post :) I miss u and Sophie! Stay strong and know u can always call me too if u feel lost :) Just as Sophie reminds of who u r, Lila always reminds me of who I am! I just talked w her on the phone today for an hr and it was amazing to know that no matter how far us ursuline girls r apart we r always there for each other :)

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