I couldn't sleep the other night. My son kept coming into my bedroom and telling me he was scared. I made sense. It had been a LONG time since any of us had seen lightning like this. The storm above our house was loud! The thunder shook the windows. It felt like the biggest storm of the year decided to pull the parking brake right after arriving at our roof. The dog hates lightning, so he decided to sleep on my pillow. He smells. It wasn't pleasant.
I can see why my three-year-old was a bit frightened.
I must have walked him back to his bed ten times. At least it felt like ten. I couldn't quite fall back to sleep. I listened to the rain pound the roof. I thought about all the things I had to do the next day. I thought about the upcoming weekend and the big plans we had for the backyard. I told the kids we were going to build a frame to hold water balloons. The dangling balloons would be the perfect targets for their new bows and arrows. The thunder snapped me out of my thought pattern.
"Why am I not reading the Bible?" I thought to myself.
It'd been too long since I cracked the Good News. Lately, because of the immense workload involved with launching a book -- marketing, website development, book shipping, payments, speaking engagements -- I had not been reading my Bible as much as I'd like. It's shameful, really. How can I plan to tell people about God's word through 'Finding Joy Beyond The Headlines' when I'm not READING God's word myself?
It was about 5 a.m. when I slowly wandered to the kitchen table to read my Bible.
I'm glad I did. I came across a verse that I WISH I'd found before finalizing the printed copies of FJBTH. I stumbled into Psalm 16:11 (NLT):
This is a verse I wish I'd seen before publishing Finding Joy Beyond The Headlines. It is such a great roadmap for where true joy is found. It's found IN HIS PRESENCE.
I have been talking ABOUT God a lot lately but not talking WITH God much at all. That's a recipe for disaster. How can I expect people to read my words about finding joy if I am not doing it myself? I was feeling a little bit like a part-time Christian. I was giving God a lot of my leftover time. I was not starting my day with prayer. I was not reading my Bible as much as I should have been reading. I listened to sermons while driving in the car but that's not an adequate substitute for one-on-one connection with God. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is the most important one in the world yet, as I've read, most Christians spend less than three minutes per day in prayer.
Try speaking to your spouse for three minutes today and see how well your communication will go.... (second thought, don't try that)
But we do that with God! And we wonder why we are feeling lethargic in our faith. We want to find JOY but we're not looking in the right places. If we want to find joy, we need to seek it IN HIS PRESENCE. That means prayer and earnestly reading to get to know God better.
I want to be connected to joy. I want the feeling to be synonymous with my daily routine. I know that it won't happen if I'm not in the same neighborhood as God. Close proximity is the only way to build any lasting relationship. JOY lives IN HIS PRESENCE.
FJBTH is going to be uplifting for a lot of people. It's going to remind us that "good news" is not an oxymoron. God is doing amazing things in the world just under our noses. It's easy to miss it if we are not hanging out with Jesus. He is "the same yesterday, today and tomorrow" (Hebrews 13:8 (NIV). That means He's going to keep doing "good news" whether we notice or not.
Why would you want to miss out on that? You'll get the inside scoop on all of God's glory if you're seeking joy IN HIS PRESENCE.
Read over Psalm 16:11 today and think about how to find joy. (Read 16:8, too. It's great!)