In fact, today marks 23 years of mistakes, grace and love.
That means I don't know too much. But I think I know a little. (Think being the key word.)
Tonight, I went to dinner. Amongst dinner conversation, the subject of choosing joy and happiness came into the conversation.
One thing I know for sure is that experience leads to wisdom in smart folk. And I also know that young folk are full of fire. And when the two are mixed, you find a very influential person. That's one reason why the Body of Christ exists. We share these two things with each other to create influential people.
But tonight, I saw someone with all the experience that should lead to wisdom. However this experience had turned to bitterness, as none of the fire of youth was mixed in.
In defending the pursuit of happiness, I was told by this bitterness, "Courtney, you're too young to know, but life isn't a fairy tale. Sometimes it doesn't all work out."
And of all people in this world, I have been blessed substantially. I've also been around quite enough to know and see that it doesn't all work out. You don't always get what you want.
Maybe it's my youth, but I'm more inclined to think that it is the Holy Spirit residing in my heart that screams back that statement,
"No! It doesn't all work out. But that does NOT mean that God isn't working! Just because your plans failed doesn't mean that His promise of 'abundant life' isn't applicable to you anymore! You're not allowed to give up on being blessed and being happy just because your life took a dirt road!"
And as I thought about this, I thought of one very famous passage. Particularly, one part of one verse.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
It always hopes. Always perseveres. It never, ever fails.
As I thought about these, I figured out that the fire of the young is the hope that things can change. Jim always tells me that he keeps me around because I'm just dumb enough to think that things really will get better. But I'm not dumb enough. I'm hopeful enough! And because I hope, I make things change!
As I thought about this in regards to life situations, and finding joy and happiness in life situations, another verse came to mind.
From Psalm 34:
"Whoever of you love life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it."
seek peace and pursue it."
What these verses, and many like them, say to me is that we are armed with hope when we know the Lord. But like most things, if we don't earnestly remember and seek it, we will forget it, or worse, lose it.
So many people I know have lost hope. And they blame it on God, or whatever situation they're in.
But I want you to know that even though you're struggling and it stinks, God hasn't abandoned you. And just because your life took a dirt road for a while, God hasn't given up on getting you back on track! You don't have to live there. All you have to do is "seek peace and pursue it." You're not too lost, too old, or too whatever for the promise in John 10:10:
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
There's no age cap or, in fact, any limitation on this verse concerning to whom it applies.
Remember that love will NEVER stop hoping, so you shouldn't either.
It will also always persevere, just as you will when you trust in it.
Remember that you must seek peace. It won't always just come to you.
Love will also never, ever, ever, ever, ever fail you. It may not look the way you want it to, but trust in the Lord. He knows what's best.
It honestly broke my heart over the past few days to see so many hopeless people, so if you're a little low on hope, find someone who has plenty! They'll always share.
Jesus didn't promise us the road would be easy. But He did promise abundant life, that He would never leave our side and that He would provide the strength to walk this life. Even on the dirt road.
Last week, December 23rd, we sang:
"Heaven Fall Down" by Phil Wickham
"Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy)" by Chris Tomlin
"O Holy Night"
"When Hope Came Down" by Kari Jobe (my favorite new Christmas song!)
I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!!