The Joy of My Heart
The Spirit brought to mind the lyrics of “You Are My All in All,” by Dennis Jernigan, this morning, specifically the line about Jesus being “the treasure that I seek.” The lyrics led me straight to Jeremiah’s thoughts about treasure.
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16, King James Version).
Though I rarely—OK, never—read the KJV anymore, this verse always comes to me in this grand old translation because I studied it in the first Scripture memory class I attended. That gives you some idea of how long ago that was, but that’s an unnecessary detail! What’s important is that the Lord has used it many times through the years to realign my focus and priorities with his.
Being drawn back into “the joy and rejoicing” was especially welcome this week, because it was a tough one. In fact, the past month was one of the most difficult of our ministry years. It was also one of the sweetest for us as a family. We celebrated our daughter’s marriage to our new son-in-law.
I won’t go into detail on the sad side; but if you’ve been a Christian for awhile, you can well imagine it has to do with disappointing choices made by brothers and sisters—choices that can harm relationships and lead to disunity, thus marring the testimony of our church family.
On the upside, we had wonderful visits with family and friends as we recalled times of shared laughter and tears. Those shared memories remind me there have been lots of ups and downs through the years. To be honest, I can think of three times when I was ready to bail—questioning my call to ministry and finding myself more than a little empathetic with Moses’ frustrations as a leader. But then, each time this happened the Lord brought to mind another passage that has been a stabilizer for me—such as an exchange between himself and Peter as many disciples grumbled over hard teachings and deserted the Way.
“Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: ‘Do you also want to leave?’ Peter replied, ‘Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God’” (John 6:67-69, The Message).
The sadness of Jesus’ question rips my heart. Along with Peter’s response, it also brings clarity. I can’t control the choices made by others, but I can choose to follow the Word. I don’t control my circumstances, but I know I’m in good company when disappointment comes.
I can only control my response; thus, I choose to echo what I believe Peter and Jeremiah would have said: “Master, you have the words of real life. Confident that you are the Holy One of God, I commit myself to you and the calling you’ve placed on my life. Your words are found and I eat them. They are the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
A former missionary in the Philippines, Karla McElroy is an administrative specialist at the University of Washington in Seattle.