What if there’s a level of living beyond how much you’re currently living? What if there’s a deeper sense of purpose, a greater impact, and more joy available to you, and it’s up to you to tap into it.
I believe it’s true for each of us, but it’s easy to miss. It’s easy to miss the invitation to live better when we’re surrounded by everyone who is just trying to look a little better, or at least make you think they look a little better. What if instead of trying to look better, we tried to live better? What if instead of trying to impress anyone, we tried to dig deeper to find what God has impressed upon us.
It is his Spirit impressed on our lives. His Spirit dwelling within us. His Spirit guiding us and prompting us. And that Spirit produces change. It produces results. Here’s what happens when God’s spirit grows, you develop love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generoisty, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We talked about faithfulness from that list yesterday. Today we talk about another result of God’s Spirit living in us…
If you ever encounter a person who is functioning at the maximum potential of God’s joy within them, your life will be forever touched. Let me tell you the story of my encounter with Joy.
I was with Joy yesterday. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was labored, her little lips turning blue from the lack of oxygen. She’s believed to be in the final hours of her journey on this earth, and by God’s miraculous design in the details, I just so happen to be within 30 minutes of her house yesterday while traveling for this weekend’s Mission Retreat. Her family invited me into this sacred space to be in her presence yesterday. In a room filled with love and peace, patience and kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and of course JOY. So much joy.
How it’s possible to be in a room with a 12 year old little girl that is dying, and yet to find true joy there … well that can only be God.
Yes, Joy is dying. She is the daughter of one of our Oklahoma BIG Life girls who has been with us since the very beginning. And let me tell you, that woman has the spiritual gift of being a mom. She’s like professional level Mom with 7 children, and many more that have found shelter in her home during the years. She has given her life to rescuing children through foster care and adoption. Joy is one of the recipients of this woman’s heroic missions orchestrated by God.
Every encounter I’ve had with this little girl over the years has been the purest form of true joy, and honestly some of my memorable moments and treasured memories. She’s just a girl who has life oozing from her. The kind of soul that seems to have found that deeper level of living. She is curious and energetic, and if she loves you, you’re going to know it. She’s so excited to exclaim her love for you, she will nearly hyperventilate trying to get it out. “Miss Pamela (breath), I (breath) love (breath) you (now almost in a whisper because she’s gasping for air, having given you everything within her.)”
Which is just a work of God, because doctors said with her extreme trauma, abandonment, and medical issues, she would never be able to connect. She did not have the capacity to love or be loved.
Yet, by the grace of God, I’ve never felt more loved by a human being in my life. And I’m not the only one. She made a whole lot of people feel special like this.
I introduced you to Joy 4 years ago here on this podcast. Let’s revisit my favorite encounter with Joy from 2019. At that time doctors had told her family she likely didn’t have much longer to live. Her days were numbered. Her time was short. Her opportunities were limited. So, they started out on a mission to do everything she wanted to do in her life. She created a bucket list.
At 8 years old, she put me on the list of people she wanted to see. I’ve never been more honored to make a list than right then and there. Joy listens to devotionals with her Mama. She watches my videos. She knows my voice and claims me as her own. Now she also claims to be a real life mermaid, so there’s that.
When I got that call in 4 years ago, hearing her days were numbered, I drove to Oklahoma City. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity.
Knowing her love of mermaids, I searched every store for an adult size mermaid tail along the way. I don’t know where you find those. However the Target had a youth size mermaid tail for $14.99 and I called it good.
Joy came to my hotel swimming pool. Like literally, JOY was in my swimming pool. Joy in it’s purest form. Joy to it’s fullest. Joy unrestrained. Joy overflowing. Joy so beautiful it would make your eyes leak.
And there was 8 year old Joy too, in a mermaid suit.
What she didn’t know is I was in the bathroom squeezing myself into my child size mermaid suit like a sausage link. Ya’ll I’m nearly 6 feet tall and totally NOT child size, my mermaid tail was more like an absurdly tight mini-skirt that didn’t breathe, but it didn’t matter. I was popping out of that sucker like a can of busted biscuits.
When Joy saw me she said, “Miss Pamela, (breath) I love you (breath), you’re the biggest mermaid ever!” Right there I decided I could die a happy woman. My life is now complete. I’m the biggest mermaid ever. (If you know me, you know you can really call me anything but big. My best friends call me Tiny. I have a complex about being the big girl after being called Amazon Woman and Jolly Green Giant growing up. So to be referred to as the biggest mermaid ever … girl, I must really love you.)
Joy. Pure Joy. In the form of an 8 year old little girl who had endured more hardship in her life than most ever will in 80 years. A little girl who has packed wide-eyed, hyperventilating excitement, all-out living into her short years. A little girl who’s mermaid tummy bares the scars from over 40 surgeries. A little girl who is technically living less and less every day, yet is living more and more every day.
Her name is Joy. Her life’s purpose is to spread it.
James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …”
Could her pure joy come from facing trials of many kinds?
Could she know something about life that we in our insulated world of an occasional headache and a minor pain here and there, have no awareness of?
Could Joy’s priorities be on living because it’s been a required daily choice?
We live almost by accident, without a second thought … Joy lives by sheer grit and the grace of God.
She’s the happiest little girl I’ve ever met. She’s a party machine packed in a little body covered in scars. And she’s on a mission … a mission to live. And living she has done, for far more years than imagined possible.
Deuteronomy 30: 15 & 19 says “Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster … choose life.”
Today you have a choice. A choice between life and death. Won’t you choose life? Won’t you choose to live?
Or will you let the trials in life get you down? Will you be overwhelmed with all you have to do? Will you be consumed by aches and pains? Will you care entirely too much how you would look in a mermaid suit? Will you be wrapped up in what others think? Will you be stuck on your phone? Will you be plagued with worry or regret? That is death. These are the things sucking the life out of you.
Jesus is begging you to choose JOY today. Choose joy by living according to your priorities.
If it’s important to you, then make time for it. That is life.
If it’s of value to you, be there fully for it. That is life.
If you have an opportunity to wear a mermaid tail, say HECK YEAH, and rock it. That is life.
Trials are not there to break you. They’re not there to consume you. In fact, after scripture says to ” consider it pure joy whenever you face trials”, it then says “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We try to run from the trials don’t we? We try to rush through the hard times. Heck I prefer to avoid trials like I avoid confrontation … like the plague. But the trials in our life bring a sweetness like nothing else. If we will persevere, God’s work in us will be complete so we are lacking nothing.
Trials in life bring us face to face with our priorities. Trails make the choice between life and death crystal clear.
May you choose life today.
May you live in alignment with your priorities.
May God continue his work in your life so you’re lacking absolutely nothing.
And may you have a head on collision with JOY today.
That sweet little real life mermaid Joy’s days were always numbered. And so are yours. Her time was limited. So is yours.
She was given far more years than anyone ever imagined. Four years after our mermaid encounter, she has successfully marked off every single thing from her bucket list. She did everything she wanted to do. And now her eyes are closed, her breathing is slowing, and she’s awaiting Jesus to come take her hand to dance with him.
You don’t have forever to live this life you have been given. The opportunities you have today may never come again. You don’t have time to waste here girlfriend. You better be living. You know all those things you want to do in life, yeah … you better be doing them!
And once you face this truth without fear, accepting the trials as training to become your best self, then you can have PURE JOY.
Joy when life is tough.
Joy when you have scars.
Joy when the future is uncertain.
Joy when it hurts to live, but living is what you’re here to do.
May you live. And may you always choose joy.