This morning I woke up feeling happy for no good reason. Of course, as you can see by my previous post, I'm thinking about crosses: the one Christ bore on our behalf and the ones he gives to us. We suffer. We die to self, and our flesh, but amid all this sacrifice, I never want to lose sight of what a privilege it is to serve the Lord. In Small Surrenders, my Lenten devotional this year, yesterday I read about embracing our trials and sufferings. This is difficult for me, as my response to being told I may have a vocation to suffer reveals. But there are days of amazing grace that come to me for no good reason but the fact that God loves me. On those days, in my weakness and utter dependence on God, he shares with me his strength and ability to do his will, and I in turn give him the weight of my crosses. This is a conscious choice lovies, and in doing so I choose what Emilie Griffin calls "a certain lightness of heart." She writes:
"When we choose the way of Jesus we are opting for happiness. Just one simple line in the Psalms seems to say it all: Happy are those... whose hope in in the Lord their God. If we don't follow the way of the wicked, if we avoid the attitudes of sinners, if we don't hang out with the insolent, then we will have a kind of inward happiness that keeps us going. The Psalms make a further comparison: the good person is like a tree planted near running water, yielding fruit, whose leaves never fade or fall."
The fact is, crosses give way to resurrection and new life. Wouldn't it be marvelous, lovies, if we embraced spiritual disciplines in this penitential season, and tasted the sweet and luscious fruit they bear in our lives. God's fruit is good! Taste and see it! The spiritual disciplines are designed to make us those happy people who trust in the Lord our God.
When I was a girl, we used to sing praise songs in the Pentecostal church I went to. One of the songs the old folks sang was, "This joy that I have, the world can give it to me. The world can't give it, and the world can't take it away." So as you drag that cross you bear around, no matter what it may be, don't forget that Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
I can see the empty tomb at the end of this Lenten journey. It's far away, and still a little fuzzy, but I know it's there, and just for today, the thought of it strengthens me.
Stay tuned, lovies. Tomorrow I'm going to write some prayers for us, and offer you an invitation.