'You Will Make Me Full of Joy'

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

I know some years ago, I wrote a post with some of the thoughts I'm penning below, but  considering the length of time since I did so, I guess there is no harm in sharing it more fully now. Possibly, I am am in the need of a fresh prompting of what the true meaning of joy is as the year comes to a close and a new one dawns. I always need to remember, after all.

One of my 'favourite' (if one can ever have a favourite) verse in the Scriptures has been Psalm 16, verse 11. Not only does it speak of 'fullness of joy' which resonates strongly with my desire and longing for 'joy', but also in Acts, we see the Apostle Peter take this passage of Scripture as a fulfillment of prophesy in regards to our Lord and His Resurrection - what a glorious mystery and Hope! 

'I foresaw the LORD always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your Presence.'
Acts 2: 25-28 

Over the months and years since, I titled my blog 'Fullness of Joy', the title and verse accompanying my blog has helped me keep in perspective not only what I share on my blog about my writing, the books I love and the things I love to do and be, but it also has been a beneficial reminder of who and what I am in Christ, and His Providential purpose and destiny for my life, to walk the path of faith and joy with my Lord, looking towards my eternal Home (and not getting entangled in every Vanity Fair of life). We're just passin' through. 

I am Joy, and as to my temperament, ironically, I am (generally!) as happy a person as my name would imply. In many ways, life seems brimming chock-block-full of so many joys, laughter and glorious beauty. It can be overwhelming at times! And yet, it is also filled with greater sorrow and sadness, pain, agony and sin. That kind of fearfulness and darkness that can not be easily shut out. Once I thought differently, but now I am realizing just how much life is filled with gritty sorrow and burdensome toil. Once I used to think the book of Ecclesiastics and Job really did not belong in the spiritual journey of a Christian who has Hope in Christ. Now, I am starting to glimpse something of an affinity to those passages of Scripture. Life is difficult to understand especially when you're hurting and when you find that you cannot be happy of and in yourself. Of myself I know I cannot ever be happy... I cannot be a 'joy' to others, to the Lord, or a joy in my own life. My selfishness, my sins, the troubles and sorrows around me, robs me of any beauty and ecstasy over the glory of Creation. All I see, these days, is the Fall.

And it is so, so hard... to see the Resurrection

...in the world, in Creation, in the church-family and in me. But then I look to Christ. And like through a mirror, not dimly, but truly, I see it in Him. It is in Him that all my Desires and Joys abide. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Where everything else fails, He does not. Friends, loved ones, hopes and dreams, ambitions, pleasures... they all disappoint. He does not. I am not saying that following Him is easy, or that life's problems fix themselves over. Oh, no! It is the way of Calvary, after all. But - it is worth it. Because He is there, His Spirit abiding in us - we die to self, and live in Him! And like the Apostle Paul, 'as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing...'

And so, the verse in Psalm 16 has become very dear to me over the years; over and over, the Lord keeps showing me how there can never be true joy in life apart from Him. It is in His Presence that there is fullness of joy. And that 'joy' is unlike anything the world offers. It is a joy, oh far more precious! It is a joy that comes from abiding and living in the Presence of our beloved Saviour, in repentance (which is the joy-filled life!). Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15: 11 NKJV) It is the joy of the Lord. During the season in which I was born (Christmas), there is a sense of celebration and jollification, but  in those special joyous occasions you and I may be suffering or hurting... or maybe, just struggling with doubts and don't feel any joy, or anything of that kind of happiness of the world that is both cheap and so transient. But there is a joy far greater, true joy... and you know what? That joy, no one... NO ONE! can take away from us, even in the midst of weeping and great inner turmoil and darkness. Jesus promised us His joy...

"Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy... Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you."
John 16: 20, 22 NKJV

No one can take that away. Seeking the Lord Jesus, dwelling in His Presence, that's where there is 'fullness of joy' and inner peace. That's the desire of my heart. To dwell in His Presence and abide in Him. A part of abiding in Him, dwelling in His Presence is listening to His voice and obeying. When we stop choosing our own way, and the passing "pleasures of this world", "He will show us the path of life..." and in dying to self, abiding in Him, then there is true fulfillment and joy in life - then there is Joy and Resurrection! That is one big lesson of my life that I know I will continue to learn and grow in for the rest of my life: walking the path of life with Him in the everyday things of life, and also the big things: in home-life,  schooling, reading, writing, music, art, homemaking, cooking, sewing, family-time, friend-time, quiet times with God... the list is endless. He gives the joy with which we can see life and enjoy it, and take all these joys of life and give it back to Him in thankfulness. It is a life surprised by signposts of joy - our final joy will be in reaching Glory Land when we will continually be with Him in utter joy and bliss; but until then, as we walk the path of life, His joyful Presence surrounds us. He is with us. Oh!  So, may we seek His Presence always- for in His presence is fullness of joy! 

'When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries 'Look!' The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver  and their lettering of gold. 'We would be at Jerusalem.' 
- Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis

God bless, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

'God bless us, everyone'

Thursday, 26 December 2013

"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." 
-Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas, Everyone!! =}

Thrice, I Greet Thee

Monday, 2 December 2013

#A Dance of Skirts, Ruffles and Lace
Da-da-da... I am back, with a blinding whirl of activities done and dusted, and a fresh batch to meet! My, how I missed you all so. I missed writing on this blog too, but I have to say that the guest-posts shared by Leah, Bree, Schuyler and Annie more than adequately tossed aside all notions of nostalgia over being away - each post was so encouraging and inspiring! Thank you all so much ^_^.

First of all, I must tell you how NaNo went. W-e-l-l, I wrote thirteen thousand and thirty words precisely. Considering the fun family music concert my sisters and I participated in during November--we did a plethora of practice night and day in preparation for it--, and choosing on the last day of NaNo to learn to knit a scarf as a Christmas gift for Dad instead of write, I actually did not do badly I think. I had planned on reaching the 20,000 mark, but I am still pretty happy with how things have fitted in. It was so good to just sit down every day and write. Sometimes I worried over writing enough words, sometimes I freaked out over how horribly the scenes were coming along (why are stories ever so much more inspiring in one's mind than in written words?), and at other times gloried simply over seeing the story and characters display themselves and reveal their colours with vibrant flashes of orange and deep blue and soft lavenders (mostly in seeing what works and what doesn't). The story of A Love that Never Fails is only just beginning - I have such a long way to write yet, and even what I did write needs major edits. But considering school and busyness of family, that's perfectly okay. I see now how the story will play out, the characters are peeping their shy darling faces and I am just as eager to continue writing now as during November. That is a good thing, isn't it? And since the Christmas/Summer holidays are fast approaching, I have that to look forward to!

On that note, Christmas is fast approaching. Now that is exciting. I love this season so, so much! Who doesn't? I always look forward to this time to especially celebrate the Advent of Christ's birth, of His coming to save us from our sins... it is a beautiful time. And I pray that this special season will be a really blessed one for all of us. May our eyes be fixed on Jesus, our Saviour and Lord! May He fill us with His joy and peace even through trials and difficulties during this joyous season and always.

#photo source

So far, I have so many plans and projects for this month I don't know how I'll be able to fit them all in! But, it is exciting anyhow and I am enjoying every bit of it. So, I thought perhaps I will share some of the little tid-bits of things I am looking forward to/doing Lord willing these days :)

I want to spend more time reading God's Word, dwelling in His Presence, pausing to listen to His voice and simply to sit at Jesus' feet, to pray and worship. I haven't done enough of that in the last months, and I miss that special close communion with Him so!

Hopefully, I would like to finish a few books before the end of the year - (I am nearly done in With Christ in the School of Prayer, I sobbed through Sutcliff's Shining Company, and Goddess Tithe by Anne Elisabeth Stengl; so now I hope to try and read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in time for Christmas, perhaps squeeze time to read Tales from the Perilous Realm by Tolkien, reread bits of The Hobbit, and the rest of Rosemary Sutcliff's Dolphin Ring Cycle novels like The Shield Ring and The Shining Company.)

The family music concert last week went splendidly - it was such fun! I played with Mary and my violin teacher a violin trio Medley of The Lord of the Rings (SUCH FUN!), then my sisters and I performed a Sound of Music medley, and with Mary playing the piano accompaniment I played songs from Les Miserables on the violin. Last of all, my sisters and I sang a Christmas song, Thorns in the Straw together - a family favourite by Graham Kendrick... and at the end Mary and I with the other performs played an ensemble of the Cannon in D Major. It was an exhausting but fun day to be sure! Now, I am back to playing dreary scales and arpeggios :), with a few Carols thrown in for good measure...

Knit and Quilt ('cause they rythme)
I am hoping to create some craft-y homemade Christmas gifts this year - like with knitting and cross-stitch. I just hope I have enough time, with still two weeks of schoolwork left.

Fun and Hobbits 
  A day before Christmas will be my 18th birthday and a day after Christmas here in Australia, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug movie will be coming out. *squeals* I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!!!! 

Scribbles and Ink
With God's help, I plan to keep writing on A Love that Never Fails during the holidays, and also maybe on a few other projects, do some letter and long emailing writing to my sweet friends and also blog regularly, hopefully. Writing will be a big part of Christmas 2013, I think ^_^. And yes, I will try to finish those questions I received on my blog-party earlier this year, do more reviews and share more writing-tid-bits with you all on A Love that Never Fails and its progress (aka. snippets, beautiful people...)

With the number 7 (completion), I have still a bit of school-work to finish up. Algebra for one thing. Ho hum! Maybe biology too. I am enjoying my Successful Living Course though which is an elective study on the book of Proverbs. It's looking to be very encouraging and challenging!

 What are you looking forward to this Christmas season?

Right now, it is 10:21pm, I am listening to the Desolation of Smaug soundtrack (EPIC HEART-BREAKING BEAUTY!) and I really ought to be heading off to bed; but first, I have to share about a Christmas Read-along Anne Elisabeth Stengl (author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood) series is hosting on her blog. It is a lot of fun where Stengl shares articles about her books and 'behind the scenes', plus there are giveaways too! So, why don't you check out her blog and join in? This time she is sharing about her second novel, Veiled Rose which I really want to read one of these days. Check out her event here!

'...and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.' -Matthew 1:21