Unexpected Joy

Recently, I was interacting with my writing friend Mrs. Adria Wilkins during a Facebook Live presentation. Award-winning author of The Joy Box Journal, she hosts a podcast entitled Look Out for Joy. If y’all know Ms. Adria, you know there are two distinctive things about her; her penchant for laughter and how she’s almost always smiling. I’m convinced the source of that smile, the laughter, and her endless supply of positive energy comes from the joy of God rooted in her heart.

During her broadcast, Ms. Adria discussed Mary’s visit by the angel Gabriel. Adria asked her audience, “How would you react if an angel suddenly appeared in your life?” While I understood she was referring to being joyful, my fat little fingers typed my response before my mind shifted into gear. I responded, “I married her!”

Of course that brought the aww birds out, and my outburst embarrassed me; but it’s what was in my heart. And while I’m certain most married men can say the same about their wives, I’m even more convinced that my wife Diane is a genuine gift from God. For brevity’s sake, I’ll state that Diane and I met almost a year after our long-term marriages ended in divorce. Neither of us had any interest in finding a spouse, but focused on healing and finding our better selves. I didn’t know she was the path God had placed me on in my journey.

Within weeks of meeting her, I kept having recurring dreams of a young fella praying. He was asking God to give him a loving wife one day. He shared his idea of a “dream wife” with God. After the same dream of the young man asking God for a loving, supportive, caring, strong, devoted wife, I realized my mind was replaying prayers from my early teenage years. I hadn’t seen many examples of positive relationships in my life back then, but Proverbs 31 said such virtuous women existed.

Upon waking from the recurring dream around 2:00am, I penned the words of God’s Gift. I wanted to share those words with you here, because it’s important to me you know such unexpected joy and blessings are available.

God’s Gift

Throughout my life, I’ve had a dream,
Of peace, and joy, and love.
I’ve searched and prayed for many years,
For that gift from God above.

I dreamt of a girl, without her name,
Not knowing who or where.
I knew her only by her smile;
Her eyes and loving stare.

Her loving ways, her caring soul,
In my dreams there I could see.
There existed, in this world,
That one true love for me.

As she stood before me,
I gazed upon in awe.
For I knew that very instant,
My prayer’s answer was what I saw.

As I stand beside her,
I find such repose.
Do you think she feels the same as me,
Do you think somehow she knows?

I know, for I have held her,
My dreams they have come true.
For through my journey, and all my wait,
I’ve found God’s gift in you.

jdw 4/97

Long after that young fella had given up on his dream of finding his perfect helpmate, God remembered his prayers. Perhaps it was a matter of preparing me to be the husband Diane deserves; or maybe we both required years of preparation and training. I’m not sure. What I am certain of is that my wife Diane was worth the wait. God brought unexpected joy into my life, not long after I had finally surrendered my all to Him.

The key to finding happiness in your marriage is not settling. Right and right now are very different. And sometimes, the right may be a work in progress that requires effort to achieve. With shared experiences from our previous marriages, both Ms. Diane and I struggled with trust. Spending many nights talking with and learning about one another paid huge dividends; as we found that when the right person enters your life, all the fears dissipate.

The key to finding joy in your marriage is to first find joy in yourself. When you can do that, sharing joy with your spouse becomes a self-feeding mechanism. Each person’s joy is shared with the other, so you get every bit as much (sometimes more) as you give. When this happens, joy increases even more in your life. That’s when you know you are where, and with whom, God wills you to be.

Unexpected joy comes when you surrender your will for God’s. Click To Tweet

You’ve noticed that I don’t use happiness and joy as synonyms; and while I hope Ms. Adria agrees, it’s because they’re not. Yes, happiness can be an external result of one’s internal joy, but the Joy of the Lord is not a fleeting emotion. You find true joy in having a personal relationship with the Savior. It is in knowing that whatever might come in this world, God’s joy is everlasting. Nothing in the world can steal our joy, unless we allow it to.

I view happiness as an emotional response to some positive external happening in your life. If you will, happiness is situation-dependent. Joy comes from God. It is not an emotional response; it is the knowledge that God will always be present in your life. I think the Bible’s book of Job best shows this concept. Tested, Job showed the strength and depth of his faith by showing his joy long after Satan took any reason for happiness (family, livestock, wealth, security, etc.) from him. We often express joy through the emotion of happiness, but it is not dependent upon external circumstances and events. We must choose joy each day. We do so by remaining close to God through study of His word, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.

I think of joy as the byproduct of my communion with God. It is that gift of the Holy Spirit that fills the cup of our souls. The more time you spend with God, the more joy you can have. Unexpected joy, like when God led me to my wife Diane, comes when your cup spills over.

I pray this post brings some unexpected joy into your life this week. At the very least, I hope you’ll take an extra couple of moments to hug your gift from God and let them know that you thank God for them each day. And as my friend Ms. Adria says, “Let’s be on the lookout for joy.”

God’s blessings,

 

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44 thoughts on “Unexpected Joy

  1. So utterly beautiful and true!
    This, I’ll hang my cowboy hat on!
    “….the Joy of the Lord is not a fleeting emotion. You find true joy in having a personal relationship with the Savior. It is in knowing that whatever might come in this world, God’s joy is everlasting. Nothing in the world can steal our joy, unless we allow it to” (JD Wininger)
    Beautiful and unspeakably hopeful. Thank you.

  2. Yes, circumstances can take away happiness, but when we are one with the Lord, nothing can steal our joy. And what a heartfelt story you’ve shared, J. D., about you and Diane! I felt the exact same way the moment I met Danny (we will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary in 2021). He is my angel and my gracious gift from God.
    Happy New Year!

    1. So glad you enjoyed Ms. Martha Jane. Happy upcoming 16th anniversary ma’am. Praying your joy is filled to overflowing many times in 2021 ma’am. God’s blessings; and Happy New Year to you and Mr. Danny also.

  3. First of all your posts always bring me joy! You said: Right and right now are very different. Boy is that ever the truth!! The only thing I ever wanted was to be married and raise children. After my mom died it seemed like that would not happen and I would be taking care of my father and grandmother. I surrendered to that if it was to be God’s will and shortly thereafter met my husband. God definitely needed that time to prepare me. Beautiful post as always.

    1. Thank you Ms. Sue Anne; wonderful to hear from you by the way. With the year we’ve had, I thought many of us needed this reminder. There is nothing this world can do to us that God can’t restore two-fold or more. As Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (excerpted) God’s blessings my gentle friend. I so miss you at the writer’s group; of course I miss all the folks. 🙂

  4. I love this, JD. Touched my heart today. As I read Proverbs 31 during my devotion time today, God reminded me again of the wonderful gift He had given me in the form of my wife, Marcia. She was that Proverb 31 wife, though I did not recognize it during her lifetime. Sometimes, I even thought of her as a burden. Only now do I begin to recognize the gift she was. Thank you for sharing this and forgive me if I share portions of it with others. On the other hand, you may thank me for sharing it because it may help others see more of the goodness of God.

    1. I would be honored if you would share any part of it that you choose to Mr. Roger. I don’t write for my pride, vanity, or self-satisfaction, but because I owe a lifetime of blessings and joy to God. As a “Light writer”, I simply hope I can give back a small portion of the blessings He’s given me. Know that your friendship is one of those blessings sir. I’m sorry I was not around when Ms. Marcia was with us on this earth. I suspect though, we’ll be great friends in heaven’s glory. If she’s anything like my Diane, she loved you through all your faults and imperfections in the same way. I think that’s the difference between worldly love and godly love. God’s love allows us to look beyond what’s in front of us and to see what is ahead. God’s blessings sir.

    1. Amen “Mama D!” When we have the joy of the Lord within, there is nothing that can stop us! Oh, we’ll get slowed down now and again, but His word promises we’ll never be defeated by the “defeated foe.” That battle has already been fought and the war has already been won. I’m just waiting for the victory party! 🙂

  5. What a beautiful tribute, not only to the love you have for Ms. Diane, but for submitting to God’s plan. Isn’t it amazing that joy is so readily available to those who submit to God, yet many of us spend so much time trying to find it on our own. This is a beautiful post, my friend.

    1. It sure is Pastor Joshua. Sometimes I lament the years I wasted while I was deceived into thinking I could do anything myself. Yet, God reminds me that He knew all along I had been set aside for Him. I liken it to be a tough piece of beef; some of us need to be tenderized by the world more than others. 🙂 God’s blessings sir; and Happy New Year to you and your Ms. Gina.

  6. Tomorrow December 31 is the anniversary of that beautiful day when Jim and Di made their commitments to each other. Over the years it has grown into a beautiful relationship with Jim and Di and their Savior

    1. Thanks sir. I’ll always remember Ms. Emma’s “concern” over how much ice was on the steps of the retired judge’s home in Wheaton; and dinner at Ki’s Restaurant. What a great day that was. And the BBQ on on 20th Anniversary, when we recommitted ourselves to each other and God, wasn’t bad either. 🙂

    1. God has been so good in my life Ms. Candyce. Sometimes when I pause to count all the blessings in each week, I am moved to tears of unworthiness. It’s unfathomable to consider how much we must mean to Him to love us like He does. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Oh, I love this Ms. Karen! “Joy has a name; it’s ‘Jesus’!” AMEN and AMEN. I’m keeping this one ma’am. Thank you, God’s blessings, and Happy New Year to you, Pastor Mike, and your family.

  7. What a beautiful message, my friend, and such a tribute to your lovely life. Finding that special someone that brings you such joy is truly a gift from our loving God. Praying for good health and joy in 2021, J.D. and Diane.

    1. Me too Ms. Diane. My Diane is truly a blessed gift from God. Whenever I think of the word “joy”, Ms. Adria’s face pops into my head. She personifies what it means to “maintain our joy though all things.”

  8. I’m so blessed by this beautiful post, J.D.! Your poem is is precious as is your wonder-filled relationship with your sweetheart, Diane. You’re each a divine gift to the other.
    I love you two and am blessed to know you and have witnessed a small part of what you describe here.
    Isn’t God good?

    1. As we are blessed by your and Mr. Guy’s wonderful friendship ma’am. We love all y’all too Ms. Connie. Elpis sends her love this morning. She’s soaking wet as we’ve had rain for two days, but she’s in the barn where it’s dry now.

  9. Thank you for bringing joy in your messages. Our 3 years old grandson, Rowan, and I have started singing a simple song everyday. “Happy Happy Joy Joy”. Just those simple words make us smile. I am thankful for the joy and happiness found in a relationship with the Lord. Happy New Year! 🙂

    1. OMGoodness. Please let Rowan know that there’s a grumpy old rancher (No, he’s not a gator, but he did used to live in FL 😀 ) that sings that tune to his pal Bubba the chocolate lab when they’re outside doing chores together. Bubba smiles, wags his tail, and puts his head on the old rancher’s chest, but he doesn’t join the singing too often. LOL

  10. Preach it brother! Happiness and joy are not the same. Decades ago I wrote a book on contentment and one sentence I wrote was: “Happiness is something that happens to you; contentment/joy is what we choose.” Happy Anniversary!

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. Am so pleased you enjoyed the post ma’am. I love your connections between contentment and joy. We must choose to be content in God’s joy. Great point ma’am.!

  11. I used to wonder how it was possible to have joy in undesirable circumstances. Then I got cancer and found out! Everything you said is spot on, my friend. Now I wonder how joy will feel in heaven when we are actually in His presence and there is no more pain and sorrow. I cannot imagine . . .

    1. I’m right there with you Ms. Karen! I can’t wait to experience the joy we’ll have when we can be face-to-face with our Lord and Savior. What will our lives be like without the ravages of age, sickness, sorrows, and death. Inexpressible joy my friend. See you there!

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