I’ve been really into this song lately called Up In Arms.
The lyrics that hit me the hardest are;
So here I am,
Your love has got me up in arms again,
And this hope won’t let me go
My joy is boundless,
My soul knows its worth
In arms stretching wider
Than my heart could ever fall
Joy is something I think about pretty regularly, as I have experienced a lot of sorrow. Some of the sorrow came from circumstances, but much of it came from an inner sense of emptiness or worthlessness. I admit that even after I started following Jesus I experienced that second kind of sorrow. It has taken much, much longer than I would have liked for me to grasp my value as a daughter of The King. There were so many lies to contend with….
I think the two biggest lies have been that 1. I am not wanted and 2. I have nothing to offer the world. What is so beautiful and ridiculous about letting go of those lies is that circumstances have consistently given me the chance to believe them. Although I am smart, the way my brain works has often led me to wonder if I were stupid- super right brained, super divergent in thinking and, if I were into such labels, I would say I have some ADD and a whole lot of daydreaming. So I struggled to graduate high school and I was kicked out college because my grades were HORRIBLE. (And somehow I am about to staff a School of Biblical Studies.)
I remember standing on the roof of my dorm building in college, desperately wanting to jump the ten stories to the busy street below.
When I finally came home from Chicago (I stayed for quite a while trying to get a job to stay in the city), I spent a whole year believing that God had given up on the idea of using me for His kingdom.
But here is what I passionately love about God, and what He has been showing me over and over and over again. Firstly, He knows me! He knew when I applied to go to college (with the intention of being a missionary with my degree) that I would not graduate. I really (really) wrestled with that thought, especially when I felt sure He didn’t want me to work on His team anymore. WHY DID YOU SEND ME IF YOU KNEW I WOULD FAIL?!?!?!
Do you know much about Moses? I didn’t think of his story at the time, but years later I was listening to a sermon and something really awesome hit me. When God appeared to Moses, the shepherd and commissioned him to go to Pharaoh, Moses said, “Who am I?” When God answers, “I AM,” Moses says, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”
Moses is so unsure of himself that even after God assures him several times he says, “Oh, Lord, please send someone else.”
And you know what happens? Initially they do reject him! Pharaoh laughs at him and when the Israelites are punished for Moses’ request, even they are angry with him and reject him.
I can almost feel what Moses felt after this rejection materialized straight from his earlier fears. Before going to college I was like, “Are you sure I should go? After all, you know how I tend to fail things.
What God offered Moses and me and everyone is: Himself. If you know Him, you know what an amazing and unbelievable offer this is. His call on Moses’ life, on my life and on your life is not dependent upon who we are but is completely dependent upon who He is. And He is perfect.
The second thing I love about God is that even though He knows me better than anyone ever will, He DEEPLY loves me. He wants me, even.
Just like He told Moses, “I AM” in response to Moses’ fears about himself, God spoke to me about a year after I left college and said to me, “Your purpose on this planet is not To Be A Missionary. Your purpose here is to know Me. You can do that anywhere, in any occupation and any country.” What this statement did for me was totally free me from requirements I had placed on myself about belonging to God and serving Him.
What does this have to do with joy? Like the song, which links boundless joy with knowing ones worth, these revelations of God’s love and sovereignty in my life have transformed me.
It hasn’t been a sudden transformation. There have been many times over the years that people close to me have suggested things like counseling and medication. While I don’t reject those forms of help at all (in fact, counseling is a good idea for everyone!) I have simply followed where God was leading me and I have only had short seasons of counseling and never felt led to get medication. What God has done instead is show me in a relentless kind of fashion how much He values and loves me.
This reality was made so plain to me while I was at home in Washington last week. I had a day off and I was beginning to dwell on leaving my closest friends to be sent back into orbit as a satellite. Back to Colorado. At the very start of this dwelling, I felt God clearly say to me, “Peggy, you have a choice right now.” And I knew what He meant. And I knew it was the truth. With the reality of His love in my grasp, I set down the sadness of leaving, knowing that whatever He has for me is going to be beautiful because He will be there.
So I got up and met the day with joy and a hope that won’t let me go.