I had a thought this evening, and it came at the strangest time. I had a batch of popcorn on the stove and I was watching Holmes on Homes, and for some reason I was taking back momentarily to junior high. Now those who know me well know that junior high was not a wonderful point in my life- there were days that I dreaded even waking up because it meant going to school and facing the teasing, physical threats, and just constant humiliation that sometimes comes with being the shy quiet (and maybe slightly emotional) kid. As a side note- I'll never be able to fully express my gratitude to those few close friends who stuck by me during those few years.
Anyway... here's the thing. This time the momentary trip back to junior high didn't cause me any distress. Instead, I was overwhelmed by the joy I am now experiencing in life, and the fact that those years of distress were no more than a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things. The thing that was stranger however was that this joy was all that came to mind, even though I certainly wouldn't say I've been walking with it every day. I'd actually say last night was bordering on minor depression (and I don't say that lightly), possibly a symptom of pushing myself a little too hard this last week and not allowing myself to relax and rest my mind.
I was reminded in last week's sermon that when we face hardship we are to "fix [our] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. [and] think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8) The joy that comes from fixing my eyes on these things has been beyond explanation.
Just as a point of celebration, here are some things that have brought me joy as of late....
- Officiating my brothers wedding and being empowered to share the gospel of Christ with the ones I love the most, my family, through a simple message.
- Watching a few of my younger friends suddenly go crazy on their own initiative setting up an empty meeting room into a beautiful coffee house setting and seeing the joy that it brought to those who came out that evening
- Driving back to Winnipeg from Edmonton with my youngest brother and his girlfriend, and the amazing way that childhood memories come out in story and song. (Johnny Cash songs that we know off by heart)
- The grade 6 boys who respect me enough as their pastor to try to pummel me to the ground every week as I visit their sunday school class (and I mean it about the respect part- the fact they trust me to never ever hurt them means that they understand my role- to care for them and share as best I can the love of Christ)
- Songwriting with some greatly gifted worship leaders and seeing the same thing happening across the country
- My friendship with some of the older and elderly members of our congregation. (this also brings me some fear as I dread the day that I'll have to say goodbye to some of them)
- Still being able to be a part of the Cedarwood ministry and that the kids still allow this old guy to hang out with them and somehow even feel partially "cool"
Oh, there's more. There's the joy of the staff team I am privileged to serve with, the joy I find in my family, the joy of having family come to church... I could go on and on, and maybe that's the point. When I fix my eyes on these things, I can only praise God for what He has done and for the grace He has shown me in allowing me to experience what I have.
Anyway.. it's late and I should have gone to sleep a good hour ago at least, even by my crazy sleep schedule. Doesn't matter though- even writing these things has reminded me of the joy God has granted me, and I am thankful.