being ALIVE means dying to self. . .

We are coming upon the anniversary of our “Best worst Day.” My husband, Phil became a child of God at a young age.  But it wasn’t until just a handful of years ago that God raised him from the dead and put true life in it’s place.

What do I mean? Well, Phil had a rough start in life.  His mom battled cancer until it took her when he was just 16 years old.  They were close and her death has forever marked his life.  Just as he began to finally grieve her death, we endured the horrible tragedy of the death of our son, William.

For years, we merely survived.  Waking, breathing, eating, walking, working. . .and more working. . .and then some MORE working.  Work slipped in as a protective mode.  Strongholds of old grabbed on and somewhere along the line, although Phil and I had a heartbeat and were raising our five children. . .we were never really living.  God was at a distance. . .something we kept chasing, but could never catch.

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There was always a sorrow about us.  Something telling us that we could not really be happy or grasp joy because of our past; because of our strongholds; our habits; our sin; our suffering.  It was like we were already dead.

Just what kind of life is that?

We lived for our children and our work.  I cringe to admit that.  Phil dove into work and I dove into our children.  Yes, we did the private school thing, the soccer, basketball, ballet, sleep overs, birthday parties, play dates, we even “did” church and potlucks, family gatherings and vacations.  But Fun?  What’s that?

Watching people gather and laugh was like we were watching an odd movie. . .just sitting together eating popcorn and whispering. . .”what are they doing now?”  We were from another planet.  Well, planet earth. . .and living for earth.  Oh yes, we’d laugh.  We weren’t crying all the time.  But our laughter was NOT joy.  Don’t mistake peoples humor or in the moment smile as joy.  We laughed and smiled and joked all the time-but it all lacked joy.  True joy.

The thought of Heaven was scary and distant.  We were living for this life and losing it. . .well, was a complete tragedy to us.  But not for long.  My great God did not let us suffer at length.  Chosen to be His children, God came in to rescue us.  But he required us to die to ourselves first.  And this to us was intense suffering.

Over the past five years, the Lord has graciously held us and opened our eyes to His promises for a forever future, His love, His joy, His comfort and Grace.

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But to open our eyes to His vision meant to close them to our strongholds. Our addictive behaviors, our comforts on earth, our love of money, our addiction to work and control and to food and beyond.  We had to die to this part of ourselves.  And while it hurt. . .it was joyous.

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.- devotional based on Kay Warren’s new book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.

Joy is more than mere Happiness.  Happiness is based on “Happenings” therefore, it comes and goes based on what is happening in your life.  While JOY is a constant.  Our joy is in the Lord and He never changes.  Our Joy is a constant no matter our circumstances, the good, bad. . .even the ugly.  Our Joy in Christ brings more than just a happy feeling.  There is peace and exhilaration that is almost unexplainable.  To help with that explanation, I’ve put together a slideshow featuring Phil- hoping to define “joy.”

I cannot express my thankfulness to my great God for bringing us Life after the death in our lives.  We not only came to a new life in Him, but we were able to learn to live through great tragedy and death.  We are no longer enslaved. . .we have embraced the joy in our lives and have learned to truly LIVE!!!

He makes ALL things NEW!!!!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Cor 5:17

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:5

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