November Gratitude Stone 12 Leap for Joy
Ps 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
One stone of gratitude for me lies in the choice and the opportunity I have every day to choose to be joyful. Bad things happen. Things go south all the time. Life is full of disappointments. I am not suggesting that God wants us to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything is okay, but I know that the result of a Spirit filled life is joy. We are called to rejoice always. When something exciting happens, we can hold back or we can express our joy. The Psalmist would suggest that we should become merry, to triumph, to celebrate, to leap!
The Cubs just won the World Series. What happened on that last out?! I jumped up and yelled and gave high fives to those with whom I was watching! Whenever a moment happens and you can’t contain your happiness, you jump up. David did that! He was so caught up in his worship that his heart jumped for joy and he gave thanks in song. He even danced in praise.
Every day we have opportunity to leap for joy, to respond to the favor of God! Every day I am given the opportunity to see the glass as half full or half empty. I can focus on my problems or I can carry myself with an attitude of joy. The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is my strength (Neh. 8:10). Jesus said that blessings await when people hate and curse meÂ because I follow Him. When I am mistreated He says to leap for joy as I consider the reward in heaven! (Luke 6:22,23)
By joy, I do not mean happiness, which is dependent on my circumstances. I don’t mean optimism, which places a belief that things will be positive. Instead, I do mean hope, which is an ability to strive for excellence with peace and hope in the face of obstacles. I also mean joy, which has God as the object and source of my focus and can remain even in the midst of heartache and hurt.
Emily Dickinson has a poem that probably uses Is. 35:5-6 as a reference point when she declares “the wounded deer leaps highest”. You think of a deer leaping high in the air because it is happy and full of life, but it also does it immediately after being shot. They are hurt and injured but they still try their utmost effort to stand and run again. It doesn’t easily give up and is really determined to be alive no matter how badly it was injured. Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stronger. People who suffer often do remarkable things.
When I was a teen I read a book by Hannah Hurnard, Hind’s Feet on High Places, that hugely impacted my life and I decided to collect my own stones of remembrance and to choose to travel with joy and hope. It is the allegorical journey of Much-Afraid who longs to leap as a deer in the high places. (Hab.3:19). After a long journey of suffering and grief, Much-Afraid finds herself following after other deer, using the same footholds and following the same pattern of springing and leaping as was modeled by the hart and hind. It seems to only take a moment and Much-Afraid finds herself at the top of the canyon. And there she found the Shepherd , as she knew He would be. He called out to her, “You with hind’s feet – jump over here”.With one last flying leap she caught His hands and landed beside Him on the highest peak of the mountain. Much-Afraid then gave Him the bag of stones of remembrance that she had been collecting on her journey. Upon doing so, the Shepherd asked her to hold out her hands. He poured the bag of stones into her open palms, but what she saw made her squeal with delight! For what was once ordinary, ugly stones gathered at altars along the way, had become glorious, sparking jewels, each precious and beautiful. And then He crowned her with a crown made of gold and the precious stones which she had held. She was brought two companions, Joy and Peace, formerly Sorrow and Suffering. Their faces were filled with beauty and love shone forth from their eyes. They and been transformed so that they could ascend to the High Places. Much-Afraid learned that from the moment she placed her hands in theirs to begin her journey, their transformation had begun. Were it not for her steadfastness in continuing the journey, they would not have come so far.
So I thank you for the opportunity to journey with you, and to be transformed. I long for hind’s feet so I can leap for joy!