It's been a little wild and crazy on Hickory Lane recently- (all year, actually!) This month, being mother of the groom was fun but exhausting, and trying to squeeze in a few hours of daily home school learning around the part time traditional school enrollment schedule of Youngest Mystery has been intricately complicated by early dismissals for long bus rides to away soccer games. I'm still unraveling the joyful mystery of being Grammy, and some of the phone calls from far places have brought a renewed focus on being a praying mom. And, for awhile, it seemed that I would be canning grapes juice and tomatoes until the snow covered the garden. So, digging around in the Word has again been a source of strength and stability during some emotionally precarious days. Yesterday, I read this:
Remember that joy is not dependent on your circumstances...
True joy is a by-product of living in My Presence.
Therefore you can experience it...anywhere. (Hmm, any time too?!!) (p. 292)
Do not judge a day devoid of joy just because it contains difficulties.
Instead, concentrate on staying in communication with Me.
If you make problem solving secondary to the goal of living close to Me,
you can find joy even in your most difficult day. (p.292)
The designated Scripture passage was a description of someone else's most difficult day, and as I read I knew immediately that my first world stresses weren't much by comparison. Still, these struggles were mine, and since comparisons are generally unhelpful and odious (thank you Madeleine L'Engle for teaching me this pithy truth) I simply moved forward into the wonder of the words before me.
Habbakuk 3:17-19 from the ESV with notes from the NRSV, NASB, NIV, KJV, and NLT. (This alphabet soup is my way of unpacking the shades of meaning of the various words and thoughts, since I don't read Hebrew, and I think of the result as the RBZV, the revised Brenda Zook version!)
Though the fig tree should not blossom, does not bud
and no fruit be on the vines, -no grapes on the vines, produce no fruit,
the produce of the olive fail, -olive crop fails, labor of the olive shall fail,
and the fields yield no food, -fields lie empty and barren, produce no food,
the flocks be cut off from the fold, - no sheep in the pen, flocks die in the field
and there be no herd in the stall, - the cattle barns are empty,
Yet. Yet. Yet. Yet. Yet. Yet. All six translations with their varied descriptions of the dire straits of the the writer in his most difficult day, pause to agree on a single conjunction that is changing my perspective. Even though all of this happens...or doesn't happen, Yet,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. Okay, I.will. It is a choice to be made. By. me. Rejoice. But- there is more.
I will - in case I overlooked it earlier, the phrase comes again, clear as a bell across the morning quiet - I will; choose it.
take joy - oh, how I love this phrase. Other translations declare - be joyful, exult in, find my joy in, rejoice in, etc.
I will joy in the God of my salvation, says the KJV.
Joy as a verb;
joy as a noun.
Joy as the lens through which I view my day, whatever that day may bring.
"I will joy. I will take joy."
I turn the phrase over in my mind, clutch it close to my heart, like my neighbor's golden retriever with a bone she can't put down.
I will joy. I will take joy...
And the only way I can do this is to return again to the unfailing, utterly reliable truth of the next phrase:
God the LORD is my strength - force, Source, supplier of all I need. Because of this truth, I am able to take joy.
Oh God, I want to take joy today; I want to joy in You, and receive joy from you.
Help me. Remind me of Your Presence, Your strength. Your salvation.
Whatever this day brings, whatever my "YET," I will take joy.