If you resolve to follow God there will be times when He will put you in a position that you have to depend on Him for what only He can do. The Christian life is humanly impossible, but the Spirit who indwells us is willing to empower us for what we need. At times like that we cry out to him. Today’s story is about such a desperate time for us.
Can you imagine how much money you could make if only you could invent a self-cleaning garage? I’ve been a pastor for 35 years and there is never a thing out of place in my study—but the garage—that is another story. I don’t know why it’s such a problem. I clean it every five years or so, but when I’m not looking I think everyone else in the family just opens the door and throws things in there. It’s embarrassing.
Lois and I were out there pilfering through things the other day and she picked up a braided wreath, made of cloth.
“Keep or toss?” I asked. I’m the self-proclaimed storyteller in the family, but the cloth wreath drew a story out of her.
I’m not telling how old our oldest daughter Holly is but she hasn’t been 10 for 20 years. At that time we lived in a nice split-level on a country road just off State Route 3—a beautiful stretch of road connecting Mt. Vernon, Ohio to Loudenville. Holly had a very troubling problem, but she was quiet and embarrassed and oppressed and didn’t want to tell us about it. We had no idea, until one night should couldn’t take it any longer and it all tumbled out of her little heart. She had been battling for months with depression. What she described had to be a mix of growing-up hormones and spiritual oppression. When she finally confided in us we were devastated and searched our hearts and examined our lives and confessed our sin.
Lois was just broken to see our little girl suffer so. One night we lay in bed and prayed and Lois began to cry out to the Lord opening her heart to Him like I had never heard. I lay next to her stricken with silence knowing that God would hear such desperate prayers. God heard our prayers and eventually delivered Holly from the dark oppression that robbed her of her joy and confidence. Her sadness is a distant memory.
Standing out in the garage Lois said, “Back when Holly was depressed I decided to do a project together to lighten her spirit. Whenever I see that wreath, I remember that time.”
Lois and I stood there in the garage silently looking at the wreath and remembering that painful, frightening episode—our tears and prayers. I gently set the wreath aside. We would keep it—a reminder of our faithful God who turned a little girl wrestling with dark doubts into a radiant, joyful young woman.
When we were Directing the Character Inn in Flint, Holly managed the front desk. Once some students, who were taking tests, called down to complain because Holly’s laugher was carrying up to the second floor from the lobby and disturbing their concentration. I could never bring myself to discourage her her joyful spirit. To my heart her laugher is like music.
Our faithful God has given Holly a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. He has anointed her with the oil of joy for mourning. Praise be unto God—Joy is the fruit of the Spirit.
May he fill your heart and home with His joy.
June 16, 2014
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But you shall be named the priests of the Lord,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.”
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.