Monday Moment, June 10th
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:4 (NRSV)
My morning walk was absolutely glorious. After a long winter, I relished walking in the warm sunshine, under blue skies, alongside greens and blossoms and blooms. I appreciated the freedom of less outerwear- no cap, mittens, or coat. My pace slowed as I enjoyed the morning. I had no need to hurry home to escape the cold. I was exuberant! On mornings like this, I can’t wait to put on my walking shoes.
But oh, there are days when the winter temperatures chill my bones, or the miserable rains soak my clothes, or the gusty winds hamper my pace. I am uninspired to get out there, and if I do, the joy isn’t readily found.
And so it is with our daily living. There are some days so filled with pleasures and plans that we awaken early, joyfully eager to get on with the day. But we also have those other days that we would rather not face at all- let alone walk through them with joy.
How do we keep walking, how do we persevere when our days are dreary, challenging or burdensome? How might we experience the serenity, peace, presence, freedom and joy found in my springtime walk through ALL seasons of life?
Over the years I have learned several ways to encourage myself to walk with joy through all kinds of weather. These practices may foster our perseverance and joy through all days and seasons of life as well.
I find it helpful to…
Remember the reasons why I walk. My walking routine isn’t just a random decision each day. I know I need to walk for my health. I also walk to be inspired for writing. I walk to unwind and de-stress. I walk to enjoy God’s beautiful creation. When I remember the benefits I will receive by getting out there, I remain motivated to do so.
In the same way, we have a purpose for living. We are here to be all that God has created us to be; to live in love, to serve God, and to serve one another. Whether our days are dreary and dismal or glorious and graced, we can live each one in the awareness that we are serving as a unique part of God’s greater plan. We have a reason for being! Knowing that we matter to God will help us to persevere with joy.
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10)
Prepare for the weather. When I take time to dress for the weather and step out fully prepared, my walk is more enjoyable and comfortable. I am ready to face whatever the weather brings.
Paul has wise words for us to prepare for each day. When we take the time to clothe ourselves in the goodness of God, we are better equipped to face whatever the day may bring. We will have all that we need to weather every moment with grace and peace.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)
Watch for the hidden or unexpected beauty in every day. The different seasons and days bless me with a splendid variety of color, scenery and inspirations of nature. My walk may be be cold, but the snow gently blankets the world in purest white. The wind may sting, but the trees serve as examples of flexibility and grace in times of turmoil. The rain may soak my feet, but the plants rejoice in a cleansing, refreshing shower.
When we seek the hidden gifts in each and every day, we will also uncover joy. Some gifts we may not fully comprehend until we live in eternity. Some gifts may be revealed as unexpected peace or clarity from God through turmoil and trial. Some gifts may add humor to an unpleasant situation. When we take a deeper look at what is in order to see what might be, we often find blessings of comfort, insight, hope, and yes, even joy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Make walking a regular habit. I have been walking for years, so this practice has become ingrained in my being, a regular part of my day that I rarely debate or question. Walking is such an integral part of my morning routine that when I am unable to walk, I feel a sense of loss.
Jesus knew the importance of a regular prayer time with God. In the gospel of Luke alone, there are several passages that tell of his time apart to pray. Jesus endured many days with terrible trials and persecutions, and he needed this time alone with God for help, guidance, strength and obedience. Our daily prayers will help us center ourselves in God- for all that the day holds.
But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16)
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18)
Invite God along. When I walk, I ask God to accompany me. I often ask, “What would you have me know today?” My time passes quickly as I pray, ponder and feel the presence of Christ. I find peace, comfort, discernment and joy during my time alone with God.
God is always with us. But when we “invite” God’s presence into our day, we open ourselves to notice and appreciate that presence more deeply and fully.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence? (Psalm 139:1-7)
Remember that better days are coming. As I continue to walk through the cold winter days, I walk with the hopeful assurance that spring will return. In fact, I know that all of my walks through the cold, windy, and wet winter months will bring even greater joy to my delightful springtime walks.
We get a glimpse of this greater joy in the book of James. If we give our earthly trials and difficulties to God, God can use them to bless and perfect us.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Imagine how good I will feel once I arrive home. As I set out on those cold, wet mornings, I anticipate a warm shower and hot cup of coffee once I return to our cozy home. I imagine how wonderful this will feel and how thankful I will be to have my walk accomplished for the day.
Our earthly paths will be winding and at times, unclear. Our paths will take us through both storms and splendor, cold and calm, difficulty and delight. But our paths will lead us all to one glorious heaven. In the midst of our trials, we can anticipate the one awesome home that will be ours to enjoy for eternity. In this we can find our complete joy.
So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22)
~ All Scripture verses from BibleGateway.com (NRSV)
~ Photos taken by Karen at Swan Creek Metropark, Toledo and Pearson Park, Oregon