finding joy in the dark times

write31days-journeying-into-joy-joy-in-the-dark-times

 

I woke feeling out of sorts, restless and agitated. Insomnia and pain often affect my mental state, because the weariness they bring begins to permeate everything like a dense heavy cloud. Maybe you’ve felt that way, too?

On days when light and joy seem to be absent and our souls feel downcast, we have to make a deliberate effort to pursue joy. Because joy hides behind every dark cloud and we see it when we search it out. It’s a matter of the will, of mind over matter, Spirit-led living over flesh-induced feelings.

Rest and joy are closely aligned, dependent on one another, especially resting in God. Our days of extra busyness, weakness and weariness are speaking to us of a pressing need to pause, a soul drive toward silence and stillness instead of a crash-and-burn-style of living leading to illness.

This isn’t just for those of us who have M.E and chronic illness; this is for everyone. Because we all live in a fallen world which can drain every ounce of vitality out of us if we let it. The words below were whispered to me in prayer. My hope and prayer is that they will speak to you, too…

prayer whisper image

 

“Rest isn’t an emotion or a feeling, though at times it will seep into your mind. But the kind of rest I offer you is one that sinks into your spirit and lingers. It’s a turning toward Me, a continual attitude of trust, no matter what your circumstances might be.

It’s a gift of grace which brings inner peace and Holy Spirit ease to accomplish all I call you to do. It’s an understanding which fires you to willingly live close to Me. It’s knowing Me as a loving, caring Father who always has your best interests at heart.

The more you learn to lean on Me, the more you will be held secure in every way, because I created you to live in dependence on Me. Your greatest and deepest joy will be in receiving My rest as it permeates every aspect of your life.

You will grow more aware of My presence watching over you like a protective mother hen. You will have strength and equipping for everything. You will have deep inner peace that remains. Your whole life, memories, past, present and future will be seen as safe in My hands.

Relax. I know everything about you, My child. You can rest in My infinite love, tender compassion, mercy and forgiveness. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to give you. Come and rest with Me. Pour out your fears and tears. Allow Me to soothe them all, to hold you close and whisper words to help and heal. Come now…”

A prayer

Gracious Father,

Forgive us for being so weak and easily led by our feelings. for falling into anxiety and worry, frustration and fear, stress and distress, for neglecting to spend quality time with You.

Thank You for your words of hope and reassurance. We receive them into our spirits. May they take root and begin to fill every hurt, wounded and aching part of us.

Only You know the heaviness of the human heart, and only You can show us how to live fully and freely again.

Help us to sense deep holy joy within, hovering on the margins of our days, always readily available in Your presence.

Amen

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day7 of #write31days of journeying into joy. Thank you for being here! 

As we examine those things which steal our joy, may we also discover how to regain it again by resting in God.

 

write31days-journeying-into-joy-joy-in-the-dark-times-prayer

Forgetting and remembering

Evening rails

In taking a step back we often see the way to move forward.

Perspective and hindsight combine to reveal what lay concealed.

Sitting too close to something can make it overly familiar, a thing of dependency and routine.

And we forget what lies on the other side.

So it was for me with social media a few weeks ago. I became burnt-out, exhausted and yet afraid to loose the hold.

It took time (and increasing health and life challenges) to make me see that in desiring to be in the thick of things I was missing the most important thing of all ~ time to simply ‘be’.

In the drawing back I gradually regained a sense of the ‘normality’ that used to be there for me when I wasn’t so caught up in the being out there, heard and seen aspects of life.

It began with restlessness, then as I relaxed more there was profound fatigue and deep bone weariness to contend with, as if I was finally giving my body permission to let go instead of running on continual adrenaline.

Then the silence was filled with a greater measure of hearing from God as He held me in my weakness and pain, helping me see my worth and value are nothing to do with my productivity or the lack thereof.

As an M.E and chronic illness sufferer, being ‘busy’ for me looks like another person’s chilling-out time; but it was a huge change for me to stop those activities and drop all concern about blogging and having some kind of online presence.

Freed from all expectations or demands, writing became pure joy. Poetry and prayer whispers proliferated. Snippets sank into my mind when I was resting, and God encouraged me to release it all to Him without worry or fear.

And I discovered that it’s only in the letting go of all we hold tight to that we are free to fully enjoy it in the way God intends us to.

So I have been delving deeper into His word, praying longer, reading more books and poetry than before, spending quality time with loved ones and ‘in real life’ friends, and realising how shallow my life had become.

Now I want to remember what it’s like to touch reality rather than living a large part of my life in a ‘virtual’ world.

I want to remember how God’s opinion of me is the only one that really matters and I write primarily for an audience of One.

And I want to continue to forget about people-approval issues, performance, perfectionism or pressure, and just concentrate on resting in God’s Presence where I am already beloved, accepted and pre-approved ~ just as I am.

‘Forgetting’

I’d forgotten what it’s like

to lose myself completely

within pages of a book

where time ceases to exist

and eyes are deeply fixed

on drinking in the words

upon which my soul is hooked

I’d forgotten what it’s like

to pray with no clock-watching

allowing time to listen

wait patient for God to speak

within this hour, day and week

seeking nothing more or less

than drawing closer to Him

I’d forgotten what it’s like

to heed Holy Spirit’s voice

so close in the minutiae

or to savour the rhythmic flow

as each moment comes and goes

and He whispers soft and low

to inform and guide my day

©JoyLenton2014

Gift and grace as social media and blogging are to me, it has been good to learn there is life beyond the laptop.

You can read more about how this experience has affected me in this post on ‘Words of Joy’.

How about you? Have you considered unplugging or experienced relief from doing so, even for a short while?

Feel free to share your story in the comments below.

Linking here with Beth, Holley and Jennifer. You are very welcome to join in. 

book reader ~ Forgetting  poem PJ file image pin

Lost and found

busyness ~ lost and found PJ

Something has got lost in our increasingly busy, frantic lives.

We’ve forgotten how to detach from activity.

Neglected to resist the lure of the urgent over the important.

Taking time out just to ‘be’, to pause and breathe slow is rare.

Hours spent hunched over screens is making us more concerned with what’s in front of us than what’s going on in our hearts.

How can we see the way ahead when eyes are glued downwards?

Maybe we need a break, to lose ourselves in the inner life instead of outer activity.

Read a book, rest, relax, pray perhaps.

Perhaps we’d hear echoes in our hearts, reminders of our need for God.

Listening could take the place of continual noise.

In the silence we encounter ourselves as we truly are.

And that can be alarming.

But we also allow space for God to enter in.

We find what our souls have always been looking and longing for.

And that can be life changing.

‘Lost and found’

Lost in busyness

occupation, activity,

endless toil, never at ease

Lost in despair

hopelessness, gloom, misery,

failing to see God can set us free

Lost in dreams

hopes, schemes and plans,

missing the best from His hands

Lost in sorrow

sadness, grief and pain,

He comes close to us again

Lost in ourselves

our lives, our world,

waiting for future to be unfurled

Lost and alone

in the midst of a crowd

voices sounding harsh and loud

Lost and found

when we release our cares

let go the burden of years

Lost in Love

when He calms our soul

comforts, cleanses, makes us whole

Lost in peace

we cease from anxiety, worry,

relax in His Presence

no rush, no hurry

©JoyLenton2014

Linking here with Lisa-Jo, Laura and Mel

lost and found ~ PJ MS image pin

Calling for hush

There’s a signal, a flow.

A day moves forward.

Earth slows.

Cease from hurry and rush.

Light fades and dies.

We breathe out.

A silent sigh.

Holy hush..

dusk ~ toward evening tanka poem pin

 

And we listen.

Hear more than eyes can see.

Make space for a greater reality.

God calls time on our day.

No matter what has taken place, we can be thankful for His blessings.

Be awed by His unlimited, unconditional love, His unmerited, undeserved favour ~ poured out freely.

Rest from our labours and prepare to face a new tomorrow.

Receive manna and grace to begin again.