Finding Joy Again

 

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For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8–9 NIV

I’d been feeling poorly for nearly a year—stressed, down, tense—living in a gray world. I’d lost my joy and didn’t know how to get it back. I wanted it back. Oh, how I wanted it back.

One day, feeling particularly overwhelmed, I told God, “Everything I’m doing—writing, preaching, teaching the women’s Bible study, the two boards on which I serve—I give it all back to You. I’m taking everything off my plate. You put back what You want on there.”

Now, I’m a believer in open and closed doors. That’s how God directs me. I figured He’d close the doors to what I’m not supposed to be doing. So I kept on keeping on and forgot all about that prayer. Until Monday.

I was canning tomato juice when I remembered.

Perhaps it was because, despite the exhaustion and body aches, I had such joy as I gazed at those filled jars lining the countertop and heard the pop of the lids as they sealed. I hadn’t experienced such a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in a long time.

I made the connection. And I was aghast.

“Lord, is that why I have no desire to write fiction? Why the joy has gone out of it? Why the passion for it is missing? This is the one thing You didn’t put back on my plate.”

I didn’t expect this! Writing fiction was something I did for me. It was such fun running with the muse. Yet the muse had been AWOL for quite some time.

“Lord,” I prayed, “if this is what You want, help me. Make me willing to be willing.”

I thought of my readers who have told me how much they love my books and all who have encouraged me. And I thought: Am I writing fiction to please them or to please God? And I realized the answer was “them.”

The next day I had peace about it. I sensed the Spirit telling me it’s just for a season. I’m taking a hiatus, not hanging up my fiction writing spurs.

Remember how God led the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land? The cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night—when the cloud/pillar moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped.

Perhaps I need a season to heal emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. They’re all connected. When you’re hurting in one of those areas, the rest are affected.

I’m taking this hiatus one day at a time. I still have the desire to learn the craft of writing fiction and to hone my writing skills. But I’m okay with not writing fiction until the cloud/pillar moves.

When I shared this story with a friend this past week, she asked me, “How did you get peace?”

“God poured it in me,” I said, “at the point of submission.”

God has a plan, and I need to follow His and not mine. His way. His time. That’s the only way to peace and joy.

“Not my will, Lord, but thine be done.”

One day God’s going to nudge me back to that novel I didn’t finish. It will be fun. I will be exhilarating as I joyfully run with the muse again.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me that Your way is the only way to peace and joy. Amen.

Extra Tea: Read and meditate on Isaiah 55:8–13

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