Way back when I was in college, before cell phones and instant communication, my university had this cute mail system set up. Every night the guys and girls would send and receive letters from each other, and at a set time each evening the letters would be delivered. The heavy aroma of cologne filled the air as each letter was slipped under your dorm room door. Giggles and excitement always ensued.
After I was married, I will never forget the correspondence I received from my sister in law who was attending that same college. Mike and I would just sit and laugh at the things she wrote. At first she wrote all about this “crazy” guy who was pursuing her. He was sending her letters every night, but she had NO interest in him whatsoever. As the months continued on, her correspondence to us changed.
Her letters changed because of his letters.
Her letters were filled with joy.
It was the unfolding of a beautiful love story. He never stopped pursuing her or expressing his love for her and as she read his letters, she got to know him more and more and eventually she fell deeply in love with him...
And so we take another step on our journey to joy. My next point on this journey is:
Ask God to speak TO you through prayer and scripture, instead of you constantly speaking AT God.
Besides praying for God’s help when we are going through hard circumstances, one of the most important things we can do is to listen to God and not just speak AT Him. The best way to listen is to read His love letters to us. How crazy to think that we have God’s very words at our fingertips, love letters that cannot be compared to any love our human hearts have ever experienced and yet, we never pick them up and read them.
If you’ve grown up in church like I have you probably know verses like the back of your hand. At times when I’ve been through some gut wrenching moments I just want to scream~
“I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOW! I’ve read these verses a thousand times. I can quote them in my sleep!!! I know what they say, but it isn’t helping me!!!”
I think those are the moments I just want to wallow in self pity, feel sorry for myself and scream at the world that
“IT ISN’T FAIR!!!”
When I find myself in situations like this, God has shown me time and time again that this is all just satan’s manipulation. I can’t just quote a verse and expect it to heal my heart immediately. Even verses that I’ve known to be truth my whole life will not mean a thing during sorrowful circumstances if I don’t stop. II Chronicles 20:17
*Stop talking at God about my pitiful life and start listening to what He is trying to teach me. *Listen for God speaking to my broken heart through those words.
*Meditate on them and realize that they are God’s words, not just letters on a page. They are God’s personal words to my soul and mind, my thoughts and heart. The deepest parts of my being that I’m not even aware of,~but God is.
Hebrews 4:12, Psalms 1:2, 63:6, 119:48, Joshua 1:8
Let me put it this way. Do we ever tire of hearing the words “I love you” from another human being? As wonderful as those words are, there are times that we as humans say them out of habit without really thinking about it. That doesn’t mean that we mean them any less. If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, they just come natural. I can remember having a particularly stressful day once and Mike teasing me as he was leaving to drive the bus. I told him “I love you” and with a smirk he said- “are you sure?” We both laughed, but between taking out our stress on each other, the circumstances of our day and the familiarity of the words, they didn’t seem to mean as much. On the other hand, the times that we choose to stop and focus on our relationship and truly listen to each other are the times the familiar words “I love you” come alive to us. They comfort us because we know them to be true.
Because we’re human, we can tend to feel the same way toward God. God’s words are truth. Sometimes we just can’t hear that truth because it has become too familiar to us and the familiarity has made us complacent. We allow self pity and the things of this world to drown out the very words God is speaking over us. His word will always be truth because He cannot lie.
We can lie to ourselves, satan can lie to us, but God never will. Titus 1:2
So whether you “think” they will help or not, you ask God to speak them over you. Again and again and again. Because only His truth will set you free from the bondage of your circumstances that satan has over you. Psalms 94:19
Perhaps you aren’t like me, perhaps you don’t know God’s word at all. Maybe you have a Bible on a shelf somewhere in your home but you never pick it up and read it. Too often we look at God’s word as if it were a self help book. We only pay close attention to it when we need something or when we’re going through the tough times and want an instant fix.
Or, I hear people say that reading the Bible is too hard or boring. They don’t know where to start, or what to read or they don’t understand what they are reading. They give up on it far too quickly and decide it’s not for them. If God’s word does not make sense to you, I humbly ask you to search out your heart and ask yourself if you have ever had a time when you asked Christ to forgive your sins and to be your Savior. Without that relationship, you will not understand what the Heavenly Father is speaking to you. If you truly are a child of God, He promises us in His word that He will help us to understand it. The Holy Spirit will speak it’s truths to our very hearts as we read. John 16:13, 17:17. We just have to pick it up and read it!
And so, I go back to my original story.
Imagine if my sister in law never opened a single letter she received? Imagine if she just put each letter on a shelf without ever reading it? She would never have gotten to know her soul mate and the deep joy and love that relationship held. The same is true for us. Maybe you do find it hard to read and understand. Maybe you don’t know where to start. My simple advice to you would be to ask God for help and to ask Him to speak to you. Start with a Proverb a day. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs so it’s a perfect book to read each month. Or start with the book of John and all his words about the love of our heavenly Father. Wherever you choose, ask God to open your heart and eyes and don’t stop reading. I guarantee that once you have gotten to know the Healer of your soul and read of the tremendous love your Savior has for you, you will fall in love with the Author. You will find yourself excited to pick up the Bible and read His words to you. You will understand more and more each day. You will know the deep joy that can be found in a relationship with Jesus, just by reading His words of love to you.
God’s letters will change your life on your journey to joy. They will be the unfolding of a beautiful love story. A love story that not only ends with Happily Ever After but with joy.
A joy unspeakable and full of glory. I Peter 1:8
Romans 15:13, Psalms 16:7-11,