God has great timing.
This past weekend, I was able to go on a retreat with about 250 high schoolers, which include some of my best friends, some of the most wonderful joy that comes from these relationships.
He couldn’t have set up a better weekend for me to be able to go. The weekend where I feel the best health-wise and mental-wise right. The weekend right before chemotherapy starting up again. The weekend where I am needing to therefore to re-charged and start to put on my armor again for the upcoming mental battle of chemo week.
Oh yes, retreat weekend with these guys, with the weather in the beautiful twilight/in-between of winter-spring, of slush and snow, of incredible views of nature, His Word and into my relationships with these guys was just what I needed; my vision perscription has been re-filled.
How could you not look out at the view of both nature and on these people, these relationships and not see the goodness of God in them?
They are the source of my joy.
During the retreat, the girl side of my high school homechurch Trump got to collectively reflect on this joy, the joy of relationships.
Sitting on bunkbeds, snuggling in blankets next to friends that both warm you and your soul. We begin with prayer together, remembering and recognizing that we are more than just friends here: God calls you my sisters and how deep, deep those relationships are, and into eternity no less! And then the gratitude begins. Encouragement fills and flies across bunkbeds, each girl telling and encouraging another girl about her gentle heart, her wisdom, her compassion for others, her willingness to listen. I am joyfully celebrating as I listen to each girl unwrap the gifts of the Spirit with each encouragement spoken; this joy more bountiful than eagerly watching unwrapping of Christmas gifts. (How much we enjoy those gifts then, how much more will we so also enjoy His Gifts of one another and their unique abilies now and forever!)
They look at the gift I am holding in my hands from Him—joy—in the midst of all my chemo-cancer struggles. And yet, I’ve done nothing to receive this joy. In fact, the girls themselves are my constant joy:
1 thessalonians 2
19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
I hope you one day understand that in the midst of all of this craziness, all of this life-shifting and uprooting, that our eternal relationships are of the utmost source of stable joy you can find. It is so paradoxical thinking!: Jesus says as I give more and more of my life away to others (even when I feel like I have literally nothing, chemo-brained filled and hollow-bone strength), I am restored to receive more and more. This is the supernatural exchange, the wisdom of God! As I stop looking to myself, my circumstances and I look and move outward towards you, towards my relationships with you, that is where the door of my heart is opened to receive the joy. My Spirit that is within me who is by definition a love-giver is so content and pleased to be working diligently, working in the way He was ultimate designed to do.
As I’m listening to their encouragements and prayers, Father is revealing to me the other role my sisters have in my life. Their testimonies of how God is changing them, growing them, has comforted them, has assured them assures me and testifies to me once, twice, three times more, again and again, that He is Real. That He is Personal. That He is moving and interacting in their lives and therefore in my life also.
As Eileen is always telling me, I now tell you: you all are my gifts. I will you in on my secret-joy: you are the source of it, always always.