Morning joy to evening mourning.

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Spent a joyful morning catching up with a friend over tea, with a slight hiccup in that we each went to different cafes. Turns out the funky place I thought was unique in all the world has a twin. When we managed to finally get ourselves in the same location at the same time, we enjoyed what ended up being a three-hour conversation about the state of the world and our purpose in it. She is passionate about protecting the dignity of women by giving them meaningful options to abortion in the form of tangible resources and I felt a little like a traitor to the cause because I work for a non-profit organization with a different focus.

This evening I “liked” Phil Cooke’s Facebook page. He’s the author of One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born To Do, which is all about…well, that. When I stumbled upon his page, Phil had posted the question “Think fast, what are you supposed to do with your life? What’s the one big thing you were born to do?”

I should just be able to blurt out the answer without thinking at this point in my life, but I can’t. It’s a question that haunts me every single day. Most days I work hard to create enough important busy-ness to drown it out.

I can rattle off at least thirty-seven things I think I should be doing or might like to do in the future…and I can add another dozen things other people think I need to have been doing for quite some time, but I can’t really say with any degree of certainty I was born to do any of them.

I believe the most profound sense of joy has to come from knowing you are right in the heart of God’s plan for your life…being all He created you to be and doing that one big audacious thing He created you to do.

I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time…I’m talking decades here…poking around the edge of whatever that thing is, yet never striking into the heart of it. And I feel simultaneously disappointed in myself for missing what should be obvious and angry with God for hiding it from me.

The truth is, I sometimes wonder if I forfeited my purpose like Esau forfeited his. Did I trade it in for the pursuit of lesser things? For things that produce temporal happiness, but never joy?

I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus. {Malcolm Muggeridge}

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The beginning. Again.

20121121-205102.jpgI’m writing this from my bed, where I’ve spent the better part of four days battling it out with my arch enemies chronic pain and the accompanying fear that life can never be normal.

I did manage to get myself dressed yesterday to pick up some much-needed sustenance. On the way, I came across a Goodwill store where I found a barely used copy of John Ortberg’s book, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.” It doesn’t take a prophet to know that lying in pain for days is not exactly what I imagined for myself and I figured $2.49 was a small price to pay for the life I was hoping for all along.

Turns out the book is about spiritual disciplines. This was a disappointment as I was in no shape to incorporate any to-do’s in my daily routine and mostly I didn’t want to hear about what a tragic mess I had become–no doubt because I hadn’t practiced the necessary disciplines in the first place.

But I was wrong.

The first substantive chapter is titled “A Dee Dah Day.” I can handle that. It’s about learning to celebrate the little things and increasing our capacity for joy. I may not be able to do much when pain bowls me over, but I can look for some small gift of God in its midst. And so I did.

The photo above is the view out my bedroom window. It’s what I’ve been staring at for much of these past days, thinking about how God brings the change of seasons year after year. He’s seen countless autumns turning into winters, but He keeps making them as enchanting as ever.

Did you know that God never gets tired of His creation? He never gets sick of the sunrise and sunset. Every morning He says “This is the day I have made, so let’s be JOYFUL and happy in it!”

And even though this pain-imposed timeout is not part of the life I’ve always wanted, I’m going to use it to cultivate the ability to celebrate and experience JOY. And you never know…it might even make me feel better.

A joyful heart is good medicine. {Proverbs 17:22}