Monday, June 20, 2011

how to find true joy

i want to be happy.  we all do, right?

i want to experience the depths of true joy... perfect joy.  it is an innate within every human being to crave this perfect joy... this elusive perfect joy.  with great achievement that i believed would bring me the satisfaction i was longing for, i have found hollow numbness.  in conquest and victory the depth of bliss is so superficial, it is surprising.  it is God's will for me to experience this sweetness of true joy, but how, i have often wondered, is this sweetness i have imagined and know to be possible actually realized?

someone shared this story of st. francis with me a couple years ago and it has stuck with me unlike many stories i have heard.  i could not express better what st. francis described as perfect joy to brother leo while they were on a walk one bitterly cold winter day.  conviction gripped my heart... it still grips me, as my vision for joy was not high enough.  i had foolishly imagined that i could maintain my rights and still experience the fullness of joy that Jesus walked in... that He longs for us to be immersed in.
one day in winter, as st francis was going with brother leo from perugia to st mary of the angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to brother leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him: "brother leo, if it were to please God that the friars minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy." 

a little further on, st francis called to him a second time: "o brother leo, if the friars minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy." 

shortly after, he cried out again: "o brother leo, if the friars minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy." 

after proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: "o brother leo, thou little lamb of God! if the friars minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters - write that this would not be perfect joy." 

shortly after, he cried out again: "o brother leo, if the friars minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy." 

now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, brother leo wondered much within himself; and, questioning the saint, he said: "father, i pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy."

st francis answered: "if, when we shall arrive at st mary of the angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, we are two of the brethren', he should answer angrily, what ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone i say'; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall - then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, o brother leo, that this is perfect joy

and if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, 'begone, miserable robbers! to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!' - and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, o brother leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. 

and if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, 'these are but importunate rascals, i will deal with them as they deserve'; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick - if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for Him, write, o brother leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy. 

when we suffer and are mistreated and anger no longer has a hold on our hearts...

- then -

we have found true joy.



counting gifts...

223 - 240:

223.  time to get away to starbucks to study the book of isaiah while my dear hubby watches the kids.

224.  living near so much family and getting to spend time together.

225. my amazing daddy who is a great father and friend.

226. winter clothes put away, organized and stored for the next child to grow into, and summer clothes hung and ready.

227. plants growing in the garden.

228. a new gallon of coconut oil in the cupboard.

229. sparkly pink eyeshadow.

230. little hands of my boys praying for me to overcome anger.

231. vision to know this perfect joy.

232. watching my husband perform a wedding ceremony and love welling up inside because i know he is living all that he is charging the young couple to do.

233. a dear little boy passed out in his charming little suit after a long night at the wedding.

234. an encouraging chat with a friend over ichat - being filled with courage to keep going.

235. t-ball practice in the smoldering summer sun.

236. build-your-own burrito father's day.

237. divine protection over my children when a dresser fell sunday morning.  not one was hurt.  the dresser is now anchored to the wall.

238. connecting with my husband in prayer bringing our burdens to the Lord together.

239. my grandma who always bakes extra of whatever special something she is baking so there is enough to send home to us.

240. a slow dance at a wedding with a husband who only dances as an act of sacrificial love.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

do you have vision to see what He has waiting for you?

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