I’d expected a Christmas full of excitement and expectation, but it turned out very different than what I’d expected. My friends, I always hesitate to share this kind of stuff because I only want to be an encouragement to you. But I’m trusting that in obeying His nudge to share this weird journey Abba will encourage you greatly. Because a promise comes at the end of it.
As I said, I’d expected a very different Christmas. For a multitude of reasons that I won’t go into detail (only because they aren’t really necessary to this story) I found myself struggling to find my joy and peace during a season that’s supposed to be full of it. My smiles and laughter felt forced. And I continually cried out to Abba, “What is wrong with me?”
I pushed through, determined to enjoy Christmas as much as possible. And I did find moments of peace and joy in the presence of my family and quiet moments with Jesus. Not the best of Christmases but still good.
Now stay with me because what comes next involves you. Yes, you.
On Thursday my Bible lay open on the ottoman in front of my favorite chair. I thought I was done for the morning, but as I rose to walk away and get on with my day, these words from Joel caught my eye:
Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. — Joel 1:14
My thoughts returned to these words throughout the rest of the day. My spiritual gut said it had to do with our community fast and that Abba had more to tell me. So I nudged my parched spirit into a place of prayerful expectation.
Friday morning I read the whole book of Joel. Not a book full of hope and joy, but it is one full of Abba’s heart and desire for His people to return to Him. And His promises.
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. — Joel 2:13
Rend our heart, not our garments... Abba’s agenda has always been about the heart—His heart for us and His desire for our hearts to be His.
I continued to read and came to those amazing verses at the end of chapter two. Joel prophesied the very thing that happened at Pentecost when Abba poured out His Holy Spirit over believers and Peter reminded the assembly of it (Acts 2:1-41).
As I finished my reading, I wrote my thoughts in my journal and ended with a question, “Abba, what is your heart in this? What do you want me to know?
My pen hovered over the page, hoping for an answer. And one came. “I will tell you on your walk.”
So out I went with leash in hand and my wacky pooch at the end of it. I listened to worship music and my still slightly parched spirit hoped the Lord would fill me with His much presence and an answer.
I came around a bend and looked up. And there it was, a sunbow. A bright circle enclosed the sun but on the left side I could see one bright spot that looked like a rocket of blue that had shot to the edge of the circle and exploded into a circle of color—rainbow colors. I hope you can see some of it in the picture above.
And as I looked at it, Abba spoke to my heart something like this: “This is the answer. Promises. That is My heart for this fast. I have promises for the SUMites.”
My friends, tears flooded my eyes and hope bloomed afresh in my spirit. Abba is so good to us. He’s so good and patient with me. Even when I feel like I'm failing Him, He rushes in and shows me His love and goodness—for me and for you.
I have a feeling our upcoming fast will be quite different than years past. I’m expecting it to be everything Abba desires it to be. I’ve already begun seeking Him for my word for 2014 and He rushed in and gave me one so very unexpected.
But alas, that is a story for next time. And I promise it too will be full of His promises.