There is quite a bit of snow outside right now. Piles of it. And it's cold. I don't like the cold.
I don't like it when your lungs start freezing in your chest and your nose burns so bad you can almost feel it hardening and cracking. It's just not right.
I realized today that I focus on the negative...in almost everything. Like with the cold, and snow. It's really...cold. It's everywhere. It makes driving scary. And I all too often tend to forget to see the beauty it holds. The brilliant magnificence. The utter delight it brings to children. The closeness it brings to couples. The joy and playfulness it brings to the aged.
And I don't just focus on the negative with snow. With valleys, too. Not literal valleys, but spiritual ones. I wonder why this is so hard, or why that is so tough to endure.
I wallow, I do, I wallow.
I am a wallower.
But yesterday, Jesus reached down and turned on the lightbulb in my dark head. I was reading Psalm 27. Again. It seems to be the passage my heart is drawn to whenever I am suffering through something extremely difficult. I just flipped my Bible open randomly, and there it was. The big 27 staring me right in the forlorn face.
As I read the Spirit-inspired words, my heart was literally racing. I felt God's presence so thick, so heavy around me. And then I got to the verse that has forever changed me. In the midst of a depression that is leaving me exhausted and lonely, God breathed new life into my heart with these words:
"And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. "
Psalm 27:6, NKJV
Did you catch it?
"Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle."
And it hit me, all over again, that the Christian life is one of sacrifice. It really is. It's a major theme all throughout Scripture. I am absolutely convinced that sacrifice is one of the key elements to the Christian walk. Why would it be different when you are going through a valley? Sacrifice is beautiful. It refocuses our attention and helps us realize that this life really isn't about us...it's about Him.
I've had many times in my life when I have had to offer sacrifices to the Lord...sacrifices that hurt and that took me out of my comfort zone. A sacrifice of thanks when I get terrible news. A sacrifice of food when I fast. A sacrifice of personal comfort when He urges me to talk to a stranger about His love. A sacrifice of my own personal rights when I choose to submit to Him. And now, in the midst of this depression, He is calling me to a sacrifice of JOY.
I'm not talking about plastering a fake smile on my face and going about as if nothing is wrong. I am talking about deep rooted, authentic, fire-proof joy. The kind every Christian is infused with when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in his body. The kind of joy we all to often forget about when life gets a bit crazy. The joy that nothing on earth should be able to smother.
This joy comes from knowing Jesus is alive. It comes from the fact that He has brought me to new life, and has given me a Home with Him. A joy that stems from the absolute Truth of who Jesus is; God Almighty, Emmanuel, Alpha and Omega, passionate pursuer of all things you.
This joy is a sacrifice right now for me. But it is one given readily and with a hope that He will bless it and meet me here in the darkness.