“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Psalm 16:11 NIV
The beginning of this week our family made a trip to the snow for the first time with all four of our children. The kids were brimming with excitement yet we weren’t sure we would find snow. It had been a rainy weekend and much of the snow had turned to slush and had melted away.
Even so, we were hopeful. Directed by locals, we took a narrow, steep, curvy, less traveled road. We were told to keep going up and we should find snow. There was no sign of snow nor other people for miles. Then with amazement, we began to see small white patches in the cool shady valleys.
The patches were sparse yet we kept driving up, hope rising, we continued searching for a place to explore. Finally, we came to a dirt clearing and there tucked in a grove of pine trees we spotted a private, untouched nook of pure white joy. It wasn’t very big but it felt just right for our first snow experience.
We bundled up and clambered to our snowy oasis. It was a perfect spot for making snow balls and one round, stout, little snowman. Everyone playing, content and joyful.
Finding joy along life’s journey can feel a bit like our search for snow. It can feel like an uphill climb on a narrow, curvy, less traveled road. It takes a patient eye to see joy amidst the trails of this life. It’s so easy to become discouraged, wondering why life feels so hard. Seeing the barrenness in our life, the lack and loss and missing the bounty and abundance that is tucked deep in the shadows and valleys.
During the advent season, we can be reminded that many waited long and searched hard for their promised Redeemer. They held out hope that joy would come. Even so, many missed this joy because they search for something spectacular and bigger than life.
Those few, with a patient eye, searched hard, never giving up hope. Following the narrow way, on a less traveled road, they found pure joy in a humble stable tucked deep in a hillside. There, a tiny vulnerable baby was wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. Joy had come on a silent night, before dawns first light, small, sweet and subtle. Joy for you, joy for me, joy for all the world. Joy remains today, waiting in the here and now. Yet do we have the eyes to see?
So often, I can fixate on the hard or barren places in my life. I wait for something spectacular, bigger than life to change my circumstances. My vision obscured, unable to clearly see the small graces and abundant joy tucked in the nooks and crannies of each day. Relying on my own strength, hope feels lost and joy is sparse.
Joy is NOT found apart from the hard or when the waiting has come to an end. It is found along side the trials and difficult circumstances. Joy sits quiet, waiting to comfort our sorrow and pain.
Joy is found in the purist form in our day to day, moment by moment reliance on Jesus. Knowing that He remains faithful and true, no matter how long the wait, hard the trial or deep the sorrow and pain. He fills the barren places and gives strength to the weak.
Following the narrow way, I lift my eyes to the horizon, looking beyond the barren places and the steep hills. With a patient eye, I begin to see. Tucked deep in the cool shady valleys, I find the joy that my heart longs for. This pure joy found only in Jesus. He has come, He is with me. He is the restorer of my soul and my joy for the journey.