One fine April afternoon, my husband and I started dreaming about a romantic getaway while making an eight hour drive to Texas. I’d seen one of the airlines had their $99 ticket promotion going, so I read off the cities included. Charleston piqued our interest enough that I pulled out our calendar, found some dates later that summer and booked two flights. Right there, in the car. We’d never done anything so spontaneous before, ever.
Exhilarated, we started talking about where to stay, quickly realizing we knew little about this city. So, I did what every 21st century travel-planner does, I downloaded the Airbnb app. It didn’t take long till I had a pretty clear picture of what I wanted — a room in an old home filled with charm and antiquities near the historic district. My husband was all in, so I narrowed our search.
Found one. Read the reviews. Booked it.
That’s when panic set it. What had we done? We had no other details worked out, yet we just paid hundreds of dollars for flights and a room we’d never seen. Who’d watch the kids? What would we eat? How would we get around town? I could feel my doubts turning to fear, so I shifted into planner mode.
I searched online, ordered a free guide book, and printed maps of the area. The more I read, the more confident I felt. By the time we got on our flight, I had a working plan and a list of places to see.
We had so much fun we went back a year later!
Journey of Joy
How does this translate for our journey? Quite well, actually. We’re in trip-planning mode, so let’s first take a look at what we already know:
We know we desire joy — so we have our general direction.
We know where we are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually — so we have our current location.
We know that charting a course requires trusting God — yet there is much we can still do in our planning and preparation.
For instance, transportation. Just as my husband and I booked our flight ahead of time, we can determine the modes of moving toward joy now. We need to lock in on a vehicle that will get us going in the direction God points us.
And, lodgings. Just as booking that room assured us we’d have a place to store our stuff and lay our heads each night, we need to find places and ways to rest on this spiritual journey. We need to know where to go when we need a place that offers security and solitude when the going gets rough.
Let’s do our research and see what these might be.
The Guide Book
Just as any guide book we’d use to plan a trip, we can turn to The Bible for information and direction. I’ve already done a little exploring ahead of time, and here’s what I learned about where to stay and how to get around town:
Lord, you have been our dwelling placePsalm 90:1, NIV
throughout all generations.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”Psalm 91:9-11, NIV
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
As for God, his way is perfect:Psalm 18:30, NIV
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
We don’t need a hotel room for this adventure because God is our dwelling. In Him we find refuge and safety. And did you notice the reference to His Word? The Psalmist put his trust in God’s Word, as well as His ability to be his shelter, and so can we. Let’s keep searching:
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.Hebrews 4:9-11, NIV
So, God is not only our place of security and shelter, but our rest. God is where we’ll find truest rest, but we must choose to enter into it.
Scripture shows us how God can even be our mode of transportation:
Moses said to the fearful Israelites upon reaching the Promised Land, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”Deuteronomy 1:30-31, NIV
God carries us.
Wherever we need to go, however the Spirit may lead, we are assured that God goes before us. He is our place to stay and the way to get there.
The whole point of this week’s chapter in our journey is to encourage you to open the biggest, handiest, most trustworthy tool in your travel toolchest — the Bible. Its truths reveal a universal wisdom that transcends time. What was true about God and human nature thousands of years ago is true today.
Yet, I suspect all of these verses could feel like platitudes. Maybe you even doubt their veracity. Or wonder how I could believe them. So — I’ll give you an example:
2020. It made for an epic year. And plenty of people faced harder things than I. Yet 2020 held a major move for me — an upheaval that upended me physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
When we got the call to move with my husband’s job in June, we felt unprepared, unsure, and unready, but in the middle of a pandemic, we tried to find gratitude that my husband had a job!
Our everyday reality, however, existed in facts like our house of 20 years wasn’t ready to sell. We needed to clean out closets and cabinets, paint rooms, and get someone to fix broken doors. And, leaving my position at our church seemed poorly timed — leadership was in a huge transition and I had projects to finish.
Our youngest had just graduated from high school, our second-born had just finished college, and our eldest was between jobs — so none of them had set plans or places to land. My parents were already in the middle of a move. And we were headed to a major metropolitan area whose size intimidated me — how to find a home in a haystack?
Moving to-do lists constantly changed. When it came down to it, we were packing to move to three different locations — two to Dallas, one to Pennsylvania, and two across town.
I was exhausted yet sleep eluded me.
I was constantly doing yet there was always more to do.
I was trying to live by faith yet anxiety simmered just beneath the surface. Always.
One night after hitting the wall emotionally and physically, I laid in bed and cried out to God. I confessed I’d shifted to auto-pilot mode, leaving Him behind. I sensed Him telling me I needed a rest. My mind said no-way, there’s too much to do. But my spirit resonated, knowing I needed His kind of rest.
So the next day, I rested. I didn’t let myself do anything to prepare for the move. Instead, I pulled out my Bible and journal and asked Him to lead the charge.
From that moment on, when I couldn’t sleep at night, I’d pray Psalm 23 or Philippians 4:4-6. Their words promised me that God was my shepherd. That He’d lead me, sustain me, and provide all I needed. Their words reminded me that I could give God all my anxious thoughts and His peace could prevail.
I let those words pour over me and anchor me in a season I felt dry and aimless.
When waves of overwhelm threatened to overtake me, I recited Isaiah 41:10, comforted to remember God helped me and held me, that I had nothing to fear.
When panic pulled me under as deadlines approached, I breathed in the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 — God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but of POWER and LOVE and SELF-CONTROL.
When the winds battered because the movers backed out, I remembered Psalm 37:7 — to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
These verses weren’t just words for me. They became my lifeline in a season that swamped me to the point of drowning. With them, I could breathe. Sleep. Wait. Trust.
I can look back on those insane ten weeks and marvel. I made it! I could list for you all the ways God carried me. And how He provided, protected, and became my rest. But I think you get the idea. God’s Word was my Guide Book for navigating that stormy season. It can be yours too.
It Really Is All About Trust
None of the verses I had relied on would’ve done me any good if I hadn’t believed them, if I hadn’t trusted the One who gave them to me.
I had to willingly step back and give the Way-Maker room to make a way, then follow where He led. I had to surrender all the planning and preparing to the One who knew the best plans and was the most prepared.
Our Journey of Joy is no different. We’re on a spiritual sojourn, seeking to find the place where true joy can be ours. And, when we’re tempted to take things in our own hands to plan parties and pool bashes and picnics in an attempt to elicit feelings of happiness, we have to remember those are circumstantial and ephemeral. And, while those are fun, they are not the true joy we seek.
So, I want to challenge you this week to do your research. Fill your journal with Scriptures that speak truths you need on hand for this journey or for whatever you’re facing. Google makes it really easy. Just type in “verse about ___,” and you’ll get several. Biblegateway.com is also a great tool for looking up keywords or particular verses. I have a lot of fun reading passages in various versions (check out their “parallel” button to look at multiple translations at once).
Then take it further. Save those verses to your phone — a tool for this journey if there ever was one. We always have it on hand, so let’s make good use of it. In a notes app, copy and paste from a digital source the verses you want. And name the page you save it to…ready yourselves…”Memory Verses.”
Yup, that’s the next step — put those verses to memory because then you will ALWAYS have them on hand. When your thoughts spiral, your heart panics, or you are just plain tempted to take the reins again, you pull out that Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6) and fight back. All the truths of the Word will conquer all the lies and deceit and old habits that come up.
I’m telling you — with faith and trust and a lot of prayer — this works. One day at a time. One step at a time, using God’s Word as a means for moving forward works!
Joy Made Complete
We’re looking to Jesus for today’s Word on joy. As Jesus tried to prepare His disciples for His death, He told them their grief would turn to joy (John 16:20) then explained that because of their faith in Him, whatever they’d ask for in His name, God would give it to them — and their joy would be complete (John 16:24).
Friends, Jesus’ words hold true today. When we go through our lives trusting God for all our needs, not only do we worry less but we start to desire what God desires for us. And that’s when our joy is made complete. This feels like a significant piece to our joy jigsaw. Pretty sure we should be asking what it looks like to have our joy made complete.
Obviously, this Journey of Joy is not complete. However, while we do have much to learn, we are well on our way to finding true joy. Next week we’ll feel the full weight of what it means to wait!
So awed by God’s Word, Shelley
- If you saw my post, “Introducing: The Joyful Life,” you have heard my news — I’ve become an affiliate with The Joyful Life, which means I can point you to their blogs, books and other items in their shop anytime I think they’ll enhance your Journey of Joy! Their whole ministry vision is JOY, so how perfect is this affiliation? I encourage you to check The Joyful Life* out.
- Take time to do the Bible research for this week’s journaling work. And don’t forget to put some in your phone and start memorizing them!
- Share your experiences and revelations by commenting below. I’ve heard from a few of you personally, so I’m grateful to hear this journey is meeting you in meaningful ways. It sure is me! Be brave and share with our crew — you never know when your experiences will speak to someone else.
- “Egg hunt” fun: Did you find this week’s travel word?
- Last week’s travel word was numinous, English for an experience that makes you fearful yet fascinated, awed yet attracted.
- Our Journey of Joy playlist on Spotify has multiple songs on it that thematically follow our theme. I’d love to hear what songs/lyrics resonate with you!
*This is an affiliate link, so I’ll receive compensation for any purchases made.