From what I am seeing on the news and social media, this quarantine is affecting everyone quite differently. I am able to work from home, so you would think my introverted self would be thrilled! That is true, I love to be at home, yet I also live with 4 other people.
I have found myself desperate for time to myself. All I need is just one hour of quiet time without hearing “Mom, Mom, Mom”, or being interrupted. I need a quiet head space for me to be at my best.
Last week, I had a doctor’s appointment on the other side of town. Which just happens to be close to the base of our beautiful Mount Lemmon. Mount Lemmon is a treasure just an hour outside of Tucson. Temperatures are about 20 degrees cooler, there are pine trees, open space, and snow in the winter.
It seemed like a waste to be so close to that kind of beauty and not go and enjoy it. My husband agreed to watch the kids and help them through their school work for the day, so I could go and get some much-needed alone time.
On my way up I drove through Chick-fil-A to pick up Chick-n-Mini’s, hash browns, and a large sweet tea. If you haven’t had Chick-n-Mini’s yet, they are a sweet and crunchy handful of joy. They were the perfect treat to have while enjoying the peace of the mountain.
It was the day after Easter, I had a lot on my mind.
I was processing the fact that it was the first Easter in 10 years that I hadn’t been at church leading a large event. It was also the first Easter in most of our lifetimes that we didn’t get dressed up and go to church to celebrate the resurrection together as the body of Christ.
As much as I needed to be alone to process my thoughts in silence, it was also apparent to me that I was processing a feeling of loneliness that had been looming over me. I was experiencing both of them in tension of each other.
In a moment of reflection, I skimmed over the Easter story and began to look deeper into the veil that was torn as Jesus took His last breath. There are things that we know in our heads, but then there is a moment where something familiar strikes us in a new way and awakens substance deep within us.
I explored Exodus 26 where the Lord gave Moses specific instructions on how to make the veil that would separate the Holy place from the Holy of Holies. This veil separated man from God. There is so much significance woven into that veil.
Sin was the first thing to separate us from God in the garden.
This consequence carried through until Jesus’ death on the cross. The veil was a physical and visual barrier between man and God and as Jesus took His last breath on the cross it was torn down, forever.
It was a windy day on Mount Lemmon. I sat there in the crisp, fresh air and watched as the tall pine trees waved like ribbons under the pressure of the wind. The clouds moved fast through the sky like a rushed parade.
I sat there in silence for a long while. I was reminded that I can speak to God anytime and anywhere. He was with me as I sat on that mountain.
I began looking up passages that demonstrated what it meant to have His presence with us. I found love, life, forgiveness, relationship, trust, faith, victory over death, and so much more.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11
We are not alone in life. Our home is with Him and He is with us wherever we go. There is joy in His presence.
As I searched for what it meant to be in His presence my quest led me to the book of Philippians. Four short chapters written by Paul. Paul faced so much as He stood for Christ and taught the gospel. Poverty, wealth, prison and everything in between.
This quote out of the introduction to Philippians caught my attention. It is from the NIV Life Application Study Bible by Zondervan.
“The word happiness evokes visions of unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, strolling hand in hand with the one you love, being surprised on your birthday, responding with unbridled laughter to a comedian, or vacationing in an exotic locale.”
“Everyone wants to be happy; we make chasing this elusive ideal a lifelong pursuit: spending money, collecting things, and searching for new experiences. But if happiness depends on our circumstances, what happens when the toys rust, loved ones die, health deteriorates, money is stolen and the party is over? Often times happiness flees and despair sets in.”
“In contrast to happiness stands joy. Running deeper and stronger, joy is the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work in our lives- that He will be there no matter what! Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.”
This is what we are living in. We are living in a time where things that would normally cause us happiness are being restricted. We can’t see who we want, buy what we want and experience what we want. Happiness is fleeing and despair is setting in. Wow.
But as Zondervan says, “Joy depends on Christ.”
Philippians is Paul’s joy letter. He talks about the joy in suffering, serving, believing and giving. All of this is reminding me about the times we are living in right now.
As I began to write all of these thoughts in my journal, I realized that I was suffering, I really had to go. The mountain was open but as I approached the restroom, I saw the sign, CLOSED DUE TO COVID19. I am not really a camping type of gal (yet) so I was stuck.
I could have driven down the mountain and 30 min. later found a bathroom. Until I realized that there were two purposes for that large Chick-fil-A cup. Yup! That happened.
I laughed out loud and found joy in that moment as something that was inconvenient became humorous.
Over the past week I have found myself pondering what it means to have joy in our lives regardless of what life entails.
You may feel lonely, but you’re not alone. You may feel like happiness was in the past but that’s not true. Friends, there is joy!
Joy depends on Christ. He is not affected by a pandemic, finances, or uncertainty.
How different would your life be if you focused on the joy that is grounded in Christ alone and not in a type of happiness that is constantly changing?
Let’s reclaim joy in our lives today.