I knelt down and made myself comfortable on the floor by her feet. It seemed the appropriate place to be – a position demonstrating honor and respect. Her years had earned it. For once I wasn’t in a hurry, and for hours she rubbed her frail thumbs over the tops of my knuckles as she shared story after story about her youth.
She’s ninety-seven years young. Ninety-seven. And I pray that she lives to be at least a hundred, because I still have much to learn from her. She’s lived a crazy fifty-seven years longer than me – oh, did she giggle about that – and she has a thing or two to say, if I’d just slow down and listen.
I met her when I was twenty years old, while working towards my college degree in a place away from the comforts of my hometown. She took me on and signed her frequent letters to me, “Your Other Mother,” though at the time I didn’t appreciate her “mothering” nearly as much as I should have. She’d invite me off campus for tea in her home, would randomly show up on my front step with fresh produce from her garden, and she prayed for me. Powerful, faithful prayers that followed me through summers of international travel, college graduation, marriage, cross-country moves, and babies galore.
And twenty years later, in response to last week’s challenge, I found myself at the foot of her chair, listening to her recount her long, full, well-lived life. And the recurring theme I heard?
Not because her life has been easy. But because In Christ, there is fullness of joy.
Her worn Bible lay open beside her favorite chair, and she quoted scripture to me throughout the afternoon. Not to flaunt her knowledge, but simply because God’s Word sustains her.
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
She could complain about a myriad of things that just get hard when you get to be her age, but she instead chooses to see Jesus – and joy - in her circumstances.
She could easily feel sorry for herself as she lives with daily physical ailments and limitations. Instead, she remained strong through obvious episodes of pain, and credited God and His gift of good genetics for the strength in her years. Joy.
She could have lamented about the recent storm that destroyed her garage and beautiful, mature trees. But instead, she focused on the fact that the damage has allowed her to enjoy the view of the backyard birds more clearly than ever before. Joy.
She mentioned that her oven was no longer in working order, but only as an introduction to thankfulness for a gifted toaster oven that works quite nicely as a more than adequate substitute. Joy.
She could have given into grief and loneliness at any point over the past six years that she’s outlived her husband, but alternatively, she smiled ear to ear while she recounted the way God brought them together, and choose to celebrate the many years God gifted them on this earth together. Joy.
I needed to slow down. I needed to focus on what really matters during this busy Christmas season. I needed to choose the better portion. I needed the reminder to choose joy.
She loaned me a book, and firmly implemented a due date that made me chuckle. I’ll sit at her feet again after Christmas. We’ll hold hands and she’ll gently glide her frail thumbs over my knuckles, and I’ll ask her to tell her stories all over again.
And she’ll remind me to simply rest, and sit at His feet. To choose JOY in all things. Not because circumstances are always easy.
But because we have a rescuer in Christ. A babe in a manger who came for the very purpose of taking on the weight of the world so we wouldn’t have to.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’” ~ Luke 2:10-11
And when our eyes are fixed on Him - no matter what this world brings – there is fullness of joy.
At His feet,
Week 3 Video-Joy
(If you can’t see the video, click here)
Week 3 Challenge: Look for the good this week! When tempted to complain about a challenging situation or relationship, instead intentionally look for ways to thank God and find JOY in the midst of your circumstance.
Week 3 Reading Plan
Week 3 Memory Verse
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