Free To Choose Joy

How shall I make a return to God
for all God has given me?

Psalm 116:12

A retired friend recently shared that he’s thrilled to have to moved on to something which brings him joy. Though he’d worked hard to arrive at this place, he wrestled with this notion. It seemed selfish to him to want to do something which makes him happy. A few years ago when he struggled with this dilemma, I reminded him that his new endeavor would not only make him happy, but it would also being joy to those he’d encounter along the way.

The truth is that I understood my friend’s feelings too well. I shared the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I sometimes lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Isn’t this the reason that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place?

So it was that after I encouraged my friend to heed his heart’s desire, I took stock of my own longing. The happiest people I know are busy doing the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also make a truly positive impact on those around them. My retired friend has done quite well in this regard. It’s time for me to be certain that I do too!

Loving God, give us the courage to seek joy in our lives and to share that joy with those we meet along the way.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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Y… Yearning for God

My soul yearns and pines
for the Lord.

From Psalm 84:3

Y is for Yearning. Sometimes, only God will do.

After retiring from his first career as a school principal, my husband served as a hospice chaplain. This experience touched him deeply. Though we consider ourselves to be “God-aware” people, hospice brought new depth in this regard to both of us. Mike observed often that, when a patient seemed to have lost every means of communication, he or she somehow managed to acknowledge prayer. Whether by squeezing a hand, blinking an eye, smiling ever so slightly or whispering an “amen”, these very ill people became present when it was time to pray. Even patients who endured comas seemed to breathe more calmly when those around them prayed. Mike is convinced that God was present to each one.

Though most of us aren’t in need of hospice care at the moment, we are all in need of God. When no one else can comprehend our suffering, God experiences every bit of it with us. When we cannot mouth a single word and cannot breathe without shedding more tears, God is with us.

In times of suffering when I feel that no one understands my heartbreak, I feel completely alone. Then, when I finally pay attention, I discover that God is truly with me and that, sometimes, only God will do.

Merciful God, thank you for satisfying my yearning by truly being God With Us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Opt For Joy

“The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

Psalm 102:20-21

A friend who recently retired shared that he hopes to move on to something which will bring him joy. Though he feels he has worked heard to arrive a this place, he wrestles with this notion. It seems selfish to him to want to do something which makes him happy. Though the new direction he seeks will actually allow him to serve others in a truly significant way, my friend struggles.

I find that I relate too well to my friend’s dilemma. I share the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I’ve lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place.

I’m going to encourage my friend to heed his heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I speak to my friend, I’m going to listen carefully to what I say. You see, it’s time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you listen to the longings of our hearts and you know our needs before we speak them for ourselves. Give us the courage to hear our cries for joy and to follow them as only we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved