"...don't be sad. The joy of the Lord makes you strong."
Nehemiah 8:10 (NIRV)
The other day I went to invite my neighbor over for Sunday lunch. She is a single lady that lives by herself and three dogs. She is such a sweet soul and very funny. She has been so kind to me and my family and grown to love my boys as her adopted grandsons.
She has had her fair share of heartbreak though. She has been married twice which ended badly, turmoil between two of her three daughters, her mother passed a way a few years ago and this past summer, the daughter she was closest to died suddenly.
When my book was published last Fall, she was one of the first people I gave it to. In our conversation this weekend, it started with small talk and an hour later we began to open up about spiritual things. Towards the end of the conversation she looked me in the eye and said, "You are needed! Your book, your message...brings people out of dark places. It brought me out of a very dark place right after my daughter died."
I so badly needed to hear that. It blew me away! I had asked God through the entire publishing process that if even one person's life was changed due to the book it was all worth it. God validated that statement right there. Now I have heard a few other people testify to me about how it helped and encouraged them but it had been a few months. I began to wonder if God was "done with it". If it had done all it was ever going to do. Then I realized that God's work isn't done yet! God's work with me and my story and my testimony will never be done until I am knocking on the pearly gates.
The above picture is my family's bible verse chalkboard in the kitchen. We talk about a fruit of the spirit and a scripture to go along with it. This morning we went beyond just reading it for memorization but discussed how the joy of the Lord is our strength. I went on to explain if we lose our joy, we lose our strength. My oldest son asked how that could happen and I gave him a 5 minute version of my testimony and how mommy has been in a "dark place". I talked about how I lost my joy, ran from God and allowed Satan to deceive me into thinking I was a hopeless cause. I then began to divulge the details of how God's transforming power took hold of my life and lifted me out of the muck and mire and put on my heart to use my hurt to help other people.
Caleb, my oldest, was mesmerized by my story. He looked at me with wide eyes and I began to think Had I never told him this before? Did he not catch on to any of this? He looked at me and gave me a big hug and said "Oh that's why you wrote it, I thought it was just because you wanted to write a book. But you did it to help people."
I believe it takes someone who has been in a dark place to help someone out of their dark place. If you are currently fumbling through the dark about a situation, know this: There is a light, we need only to reach out and grab hold of it.."Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
"I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life."
We Will Not Be Shaken by Bethel