I’m at a baby shower and there are gifts of prayer and pink things. A friend of the expecting friend tells her of motherhood: Remember to keep it light. Because the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8)
I’m struck all over by the power of it – it gets stuck on repeat –
The joy of the Lord is my strength.
I start translating it into weak – overwhelmed – threatened – disappointed me. Hear and obey: Rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 4). Because to rejoice is to be made strong.
Holy Week starts with a new parenting decision: to work on One Thing for One Week. Because our words can land too heavy on small hearts. And if we want them to live big and brave our words must make light with life – not heavy with expectation. We want to disciple more than discipline – because a discipled life is a disciplined life. So we’re Each One working on a different One Thing. All the usual rules apply. But there’s sigh-of-relief simplicity and One Thing for One Week lightens the load and feels like I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can. And the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Good Friday dawns wistful – autumnal – and there’s the gravity of the cross – the grave filled. A heaviness. Scott announces in the hush of church, ‘Jesus died on the cross!’ Yes, we nod and grin and shush him. Yes, Jesus carried the heaviness so condemnation didn’t sit heavy on us. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross (Hebrews 12). The joy of the Lord was his strength.
Friday night we drop the boys at my sister. Date night is Kung-Fu Kitchen spring rolls on the couch and Gravity. Sandra Bullock intermittently floats and panics through space. I think of the paradox that defying gravity in outer space is a pinnacle of human endeavour and the thing that most makes me feel our smallness.
And another paradox: the gravity of the cross weights my life in truth – pulls it down solid into significance. And the gravity of the cross is my lightness of being – the levity of life. The heaviness – the severity – of the sacrifice means that we can strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up (Hebrews 12). Heavy truth. Weightless grace. I dare not untether myself from either. (Tweet that.) And the joy of the Lord is my strength.
Easter Saturday we amble in bright sun through the Hazel Food Market to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34). Then through Moreletakloof Nature Reserve. We throw stones in the river. Wash Murray’s car. Day slips light into dusk and the joy of the Lord is my strength.
Easter Sunday we celebrate the risen Saviour who defied gravity and the grave. He’s risen indeed and so are we. Early. Because we’ve got Easter eggs and happiness to hide. I jot it all down in my thanks journal because counting the gifts is my daily joy and the joy of the Lord is my strength.
The eastern sky lights up Monday. Without Easter this would be just another trudge in a long line of trudgings to death. But because of Easter today is the first day of the rest of my life. And that will be true every day. And the joy of the Lord is my strength.
. . .
What did obedience look like for you this Easter?
Thanks so much for stopping by; every blessing to you this Easter Monday.