reflections on indecision and joy…

I have been pulling my journals out of the closet. Rereading the words, remembering when and why and where I wrote them, and reflecting on everything that’s happened since… it’s comforting to me.

I wrote these entries when I was wrestling with a difficult decision: stay in Germany for a second year, or more back to the States? As my life continues to bring new decisions and uncertainties, it helps me to look back. God is very faithful.

2 February 2007

But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

And the next verse is super awesome: “This [above] saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things…”

Beethoven’s 9th symphony is playing, and the building excitement of the last movement, which bursts softly and then victoriously forth in its “Ode to Joy,” seems to reflect this joy: the unshakeable kind; the kind of deepest happiness that isn’t tossed by the winds of human emotions, events, and problems. I walked a long distance into the woods today and listened to the entire symphony as I talked with God. The first three movements are frequently booming, violent themes that would make good background music for a thunderstorm. They matched my mood completely; I feel like I’ve been tossed in every direction this year and am now faced with a decision that’s very hard for me to make. I still don’t know the “right” answer, but when the “Ode to Joy” came up after all the dramatic, thundering movements, I felt it rise as my theme song.

Here is my joy: in Christ. Not in my friendships. Not in my changeable emotions. Not in my job. Not in my clothes, my books, my music, or anything else. Humans and their emotions are up and down, depending on circumstances. That kind of “happiness” is transient: so fleeting that I don’t feel like giving it the time of day anymore. Give me the real deal – the joy of my salvation – or nothing at all. Any gift You give me beyond salvation, God, is merely gravy…

3 February 2007

After the fine thoughts and golden intentions of last night, i spent several restless hours unable to sleep because my mind was occupied with very carnal speculations and anxieties. (Side note: I dislike the word “carnal” because it sounds so… Puritan… but I can’t think of another word that’s as descriptive.) What can I say? I’m human… very, very human. I love the glimpses of heaven’s joys and look forward to the day when I’ll fully experience them, but meanwhile I still deal with being human. I wish I could fully realize what it means to “cast all your cares” on God in this world. I used to think it meant a sort of complete mental deliverance from one’s circumstances. Realistically, though, we still live in our human bodies with human minds. Christ does guard us, and on some level we can choose to believe that and gain a greater sense of peace with each further step we take into surrender. But I think it’s a mistake to expect God to bail us out completely; to smooth the ride so much that we feel no pain. If I never experienced pain, weakness, heartache, disappointment, and rejection, I wouldn’t be able to know Christ intimately.

Yeah. Life is such a confusing mess. But the pain happens and it is here for a reason – or many reasons. I am weary of a lot of trials and waiting periods in my life. But God has chosen not to end them yet… and the pain refines me and opens my ears to listen. (Did you hear that, Lord? I’m listening…)

It’s a good thing to belong to the Creator of the universe. I’m no mistake, even though I constantly make them.

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