devotional thought for 9/14 from Christa

“And [Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37

This past week has been tough for me. To give you an insight into this, I must first give you a list.

Here are some of the items on my “Things That Bring Me Joy” list, in no particular order: 

  1. Hanging out with friends and family.
  2. Being active.
  3. Being outside.
  4. The cool morning and evening air of California.
  5. Exploring new things.
  6. Going on dates with my husband.
  7. Jesus.

Unfortunately, COVID hit, and my list looked more like:

  1. Hanging out with friends and family.
  2. Being active.
  3. Being outside.
  4. The cool morning and evening air of California.
  5. Exploring new things.
  6. Going on dates with my husband.
  7. Jesus.

I missed the items that were crossed off, but I was able to compensate but just spending more time pursuing the other items on my list.

Unfortunately, wildfire season hit, and last week my list looked more like:

  1. Hanging out with friends and family.
  2. Being active.
  3. Being outside.
  4. The cool morning and evening air of California.
  5. Exploring new things.
  6. Going on dates with my husband.
  7. Jesus.

Oh, was I ever mourning the loss of the great outdoors. I was seeing my kids and my dog (and, let’s be honest, myself) act up because we hadn’t been able to spend time in nature or go for runs or dig in the dirt. I felt stuck. What could bring me joy now? It seemed as if it had ALL been stripped away.

And then three different times during the weekend, I was drawn to this verse: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” In his wonderfully kind and gentle way, the Lord was showing me something that I needed to see in my heart: 

I was loving other things more than him. 

He wanted to remind me that HE is where my true joy is. He allowed all my other comforts and joys to be stripped away during this season so that I could be reminded that his love is better than all other things. He loves me more than my husband ever could, his faithfulness is more beautiful than any Sierra Nevada vista, his arms are more welcoming than even the closest of friends, and his grace more reviving than the deepest breath of cool, fresh air. He is all I need. And he can never be stripped away.

As I sat with him Sunday afternoon, my soul was more full and more peaceful than it had been in weeks. I felt like I could resonate with the disciple Paul’s words:

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

So, I will choose to be thankful in the losses. It is these losses that have drawn me closer to my Savior, and there is no other place I’d rather be.

Let this song from Rend Collective guide your worship today:

What does your “Joy List” look like these days? How has God been speaking to you through the strikethroughs?