I woke yesterday from a residual bad dream with a desire to find a new life verse.  I have had a few. When I was a struggling in my role as a young mother, the Lord directed me to

Titus 2:5: “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Through holding on to those instructions, I learned to value a calling that I never imagined would be my own.

For many years, I struggled through the lessons of

John 15:4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can don’t nothing.”

Then sometime before we moved to Alabama, the Lord began speaking to me about my need for the gift of joy and Psalms 16:11 became my verse:

”You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

I am thankful for preparations that the Lord has worked in my heart through those verses and years that have helped me through this nightmarish season.  Joy has been the backdrop for all the sorrow that I have experienced through losing Joel, and I acknowledge it as a precious gift from God.

There have been moments and days where the pain overwhelmed the joy and I wondered at God’s word to Paul that His grace was sufficient.  On those days, I held on to these verses:

Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the LORD and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.”

Romans 12:12  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, a whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

A few of those things I felt like I could do:

Trust in the Lord..
Feed on His faithfulness…
Be joyful in hope..

– I learned to trust that He would carry me through to the promise of Heaven.

Dwell in the land..
Patient in affliction..
Let perseverance finish its work…

–  The tougher set, but the hope above made it possible.

Faithful in prayer..

– There have been many days where the only prayers I could pray were groans and cries…

I won’t pretend that I was able to “Consider it pure joy.” There have been a few trials that I’ve been able to face with the joy of being made more like Jesus, but not this one.  I am not sure the death of your loved ones was meant to be included in “trials of many kinds.”  The Bible says that “Jesus wept” at the tomb of Lazarus.  He had hope: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  He knew that in a few minutes he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  And still “He shouted for joy” at Lazarus tomb. No. Still “He wept.”

The kind of life verse I was longing for when I woke up from my nightmares yesterday was the kind that contained the word “SOON!”  Soon we’ll see Jesus and He will wipe away all my tears and all the wonderful no mores will become reality because this old I am experiencing will have passed away.

Hebrews 10:25 ..but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Revelation 22:20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

“Soon!” is the word that the Lord has been using to encourage me.  He endured the cross for the joy set before Him, and I endure my cross with the same hope for joy at His appearing. As we near the holidays and the second anniversary of Joel’s first day in Heaven, “Soon.” is the whisper that keeps me persevering.

Soon, I need to get off this computer and start cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but before I do I would like to share some pages I made for our family to read aloud together on Joel’s Heaven Day.  The verses speak of soon, and Jesus and of clouds and crowns.

I learned something new in my reading yesterday. Many scholars believe that the verses that speak of Jesus coming in the clouds are speaking of “the great cloud of witnesses.”  It opened my eyes to see past the puffy white things in the sky to something much greater surrounding my soon returning Jesus.

I had a coupon for half off a photo book at Walgreens that expired last night. You can find coupons like that often but with Joel’s day just around the corner, I rushed to finish it in time.  I am not completely happy with how they came out, but they will have to do for this year.  The photos were taken by my parents and I in the Tennessee mountains.  Feel free to use them to make your own Heaven Day book.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day
–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8

Running for that crown..