Epiphany: " manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally follow a process of significant thought about a problem. Often they are triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding
The last couple weeks have brought some big come-to-Jesus moments for me. This came as a suprise to me but these come-to-Jesus-moments were born out of some moments of pure ugliness in me. I am embarrassed to even admit that I am humanly speaking capable of this, but operating in my flesh apart from the love that constrains me ( 2 Cor. 5:15 ), I found myself in an angry shouting match with my eight year old daughter on our stairs. Where I was fully engaging my emotions in sin instead of pointing her to Jesus, which I am still as grieved over as I am thankful now for the ways God uses repentance to soften us and how quick the Lord and my children are to forgive me. Looking back on how such a bad day on my part could end up being such a good day, I only see grace and mercy and I am reminded once again that it is not my performance or perfection that He sees when He looks at me, it's Jesus.
After David and the kids fell asleep that night, I was laying in bed but still feeling wide awake so I snuck out to the couch and curled up with a book and a cup of tea. It was truly the last place I expected to have an epiphany. But it was then I began to feel this soft and quiet whisper in my spirit, that I now call my " joy thing."
Joy thoughts in simple short sentences, mixed with scripture references mostly, were coming to me randomly, as if someone was listing them off to me. I promise I can count on one hand the amount if times I've and an out of body kind of experience but after these thoughts on joy, of joy started rising in my soul and didn’t stop until after 2 am that morning. I can not think of any other way to describe it. I had goose bumps and kept giggling and waking David up all night long and asking Him what He thought was happening.
So I wrote all these joy things down. And even when I woke up in the morning there were new ones. It still feels so surreal and I am not even in the least bit sure what it all means apart from these two things:
1) That I am supposed to pursue deep joy in my life and study joy by reading the Bible from cover to cover, documenting and digging deep down whenever I run across that word in scriptures and peoples lives.
2) That I need to read everything I can get my hands on on the topic of joy! So please friends, fire away with your favorite recommendations or places of joy.
This is how I described the experience to my daughter last night, God is sending me to " joy school." I feel so humbled and grateful for this gift from Him. For this heightened awareness, a joy radar of sorts. For the way joy is jumping off the page at me, and for how I am seeing it all day long, around every corner!
In the wake of all of this " joy thing" a dear friend of mine lost her beautiful 7 month old grandson from a heartbreaking battle with SCID's. We’ve been praying for over a month now, for healing and a miracle and for Jesus to break through. He did all those things, just not in the way we wanted Him to. And I wonder, how often joy comes on our terms. And I wonder, how do you reconcile joy when you can hardly breathe because life hurts so much and you are too broken to pick yourself up off the floor? And then, in the middle if my questioning, I was comforted by this quote from D.Bonhofer:
“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”
Did you catch that part about the torment of memory turned into silent joy? The answer to one tiny piece of that particle puzzle clicks into place.
But what about messy joy, broken joy, raw joy, joy in depression, joy in catastrophic tragedy, joy in abandonment? Is it even possible for those words to be paired with the word joy and make sense? And I hold all these questions cupped in my open hands as I call Him good and faithful and love. That over time and eternity He will work out these questions I have, we have,
by His perfect, unfailing love.
And if you were to ask me today to summarize to you what joy means to me in one simple equation it would be this:
This truth about joy is my foundation and and my jumping off place and I am thrilled beyond words that I get to be a lifelong student of the art of joy.
Fill in the blank for me dear ones, and join hands with me as we treasure hunt for joy.