Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

I started reading: Mother Teresa and Me: Ten Years of Friendship by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a remarkable woman of faith, writer, speaker, blogger, wife, mother…whom I had the privilege of meeting and hearing speak at the Catholic Writers Conference last August. I was only on page 29, when these two quotes from Mother Teresa really hit home:
   
“We must not attempt to control God’s actions. We must not count the stages in the journey he would have us make. We cannot long for a clear perception of our progress along the route, nor long to know precisely where we are on the path of holiness. I ask Jesus to make me a saint. I leave it to him to choose the means that can lead me in that direction. Lord, make me a saint according to your own heart, meek and humble.”    
   
I personally haven’t yet had the courage to pray for God to make me a saint, but perhaps one day that inspiration will come. In the meantime, I’m trying to work on gracefully accepting the rest of what she speaks about in regard to the spiritual journey.
   
The second quote comes from a letter that Mother Teresa wrote to Donna-Marie, “God loves you – give Him your heart to love – your will to serve Him – pray the Rosary daily. Our blessed Lady will lead you to her Son. Keep the joy of the Lord as your strength.”
   
When I read the last part, it gave me chills. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 is the quote engraved on the front of my current prayer journal. It’s also a quote the Baptist Campus Minister I became good friends with at college had as her Facebook status message that day. Though at our prayer group we read and discuss the Scripture readings for the following Sunday, I’d forgotten that Nehemiah was in them when I was writing a letter to a friend that Saturday.
   
I looked at Kevin wide-eyed when I heard the verse read at Mass. One reason being that I’d forgotten it was in that particular reading, and the second surprise was the translation in the lectionary which states and in my interpretation means something entirely different from the version that kept coming to me. The reading at Mass ended with, “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!”
   
Without having said anything else about how often the verse had been appearing to me, the friend responded to the letter by saying that “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 was what really jumped out at him in the typed three pages I’d handed him.
   
Just in case I’d missed the message the first several times, God drove it home through another person whom I hadn’t had contact with in a while. When chatting on IM with a friend of the family who is a minister in her church and asking her to pray for me, this powerful prayer warrior’s response to my request included none other than the reminder from Nehemiah. I was beyond certain this came from the Holy Spirit as I hadn’t mentioned anything at all to her about the verse. I’d simply asked her for prayers during a tough time.
   
All of the above are what I consider God incidents, especially since this verse is one that baffles me a bit. Joy has often alluded me, but thinking of the Lord’s joy seems utterly profound, and a much more likely source of strength. God’s joy must be wrapped up in love, compassion, mercy, freedom, and innocence. God’s joy must skip, dance, sing aloud, and laugh. Joy that is true, lasting in the midst of pain and suffering, that must be the joy of the Lord. I would like to experience and be more aware of the joy of the Lord, so I can make it my strength.
  
 Lord, please make me more aware of the joy that exists in and around me. I know that joy can be a powerful gift when evangelizing and living out Your love. Make me a channel of Your joy and peace. Where there is despair, condemnation, loneliness, or anxiety, let me be a source of hope, mercy, friendship, and peace which passes all understanding. Amen.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for your very kind words, Trisha. Your blog post is beautiful. God is so very good.

    Be joyful in the Lord!!

    God bless you!
    Donna-Marie

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  2. Donna-Marie, I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet you. I've enjoyed reading about what you're up to on your blogs, and I'm paying close attention to the ways you balance being a prayer warrior, wife, mother, writer, author, blogger, master marketer... You're truly an inspiration!

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  3. Check out all of the amazing work God has done through this woman of God at her website: http://www.donnacooperoboyle.com

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