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.
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.
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.”
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