• Lori

Sunshine is Stronger than Cold Wind: Moving Forward With JOY

Updated: May 2, 2020

An old proverb:

The winter wind and the sun made a bet about who could make a man shed his coat.

The wind blew with all its might, trying to blow the thing right off of him. The man shivered and wrapped his coat tighter.

The sun just smiled, shone brightly and warmed him all up. The man gladly shed his coat to enjoy the beautiful day.

I just thought of this today while walking outside on a February morning on an errand. A gust of wind came up and literally took my breath away! It surprised me, how sudden my reaction was, to pull my coat up around my face and gasp and moan for summer to hurry.

Some major changes are coming soon. They will send me in an entirely different direction than I've traveled yet. I'm so excited. The song of the sea that Moana heard and the call of Aurora that beckoned Elsa apply to me right now--there's just no telling how far I'll go into the unknown! I'm so ready for something new and I can't wait to adventure with the most creative Person in the universe. This new era has me so pumped that I'm actually dreaming about babies! (In dream symbology, babies signify new projects being birthed and nurtured.)

It's funny how joy works. Last year, 2019, my word was "Abundance;" I had to wrap my mind, heart and guts around the fact that there is always more in the kingdom of heaven and because I'm a joint heir with Jesus and a child of God, I'll always have access to more than enough. Abundance is infinite wherever my Father dominates...and He is with me always, so I'm surrounded and filled! That being rock solid in my spirit, soul and belief system now, the next step for 2020 is Joie de vivre, the French phrase for "exuberant enjoyment of life--joy of living--zest for life." This fuels everything because joy means strength! When you play everything like a game, you can keep going and accomplish anything because it's fun!

The sun is shining. The promise of joy in the strange tasks up ahead during this new season draws me toward them in expectant faith. I am willing to give up what I've had in order to take hold of what I will have. Because of the joy set before me, I'm willing to let some things die so that other things might live. Whatever cost this letting go contains can't possibly be greater than the measure of benefit contained in grabbing hold of what's to come.

So what is your coat? What do you wrap around yourself to protect you from the cold, cruelness of this world? What separates (or distracts) you from the stuff that bites and makes you feel uncomfortable? Religious doctrine? Busyness? Entertainment? Addiction? Anything in between? Me too. Trouble is, that coat is exactly what separates and distracts you from exciting new understandings and adventures in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close enough to touch. He was inviting you and me into a new way of seeing, a new perspective on life--a life shared with Him. It's available to you, but you need to drop whatever keeps you from entering in. Repentance is simple. Just say, "Okay! I used to do that, but I want to know Truth more. I'm moving on from that into something better now."

Jesus' invitation is the sunshine. Let's respond. Let's take off our coats as He warms us up; let's take off our coats to enjoy the new day. What do you say?

Maybe there's a "yeah, right" happening in your mind right now. Easier said than done. Well, ask yourself some more questions:

What motivates your decisions? Why do you stay or go? What are you focusing on: the strong winds of the season you're in right now (and fastening your protections tighter), or are you more focused on the warmth of the sun (and so long to let go so you can enjoy what's out in front of you)? Just like today in the winter weather, every season of life is different: both sun and wind are going to be what they are and VERY present, but we always have a choice about how we will respond to each. Here's the key component that will shift your season: what you focus upon will increase.

Focused on the wind, the bluster of immediate needs and threats of pain or shame if you don't react and respond, will keep you tightly bound in your old habits of protection and survival. It can be difficult, but when you slightly shift your focus toward the warmth, the sunlight that is also present in the scene, it will compel your attitude and shift you into new ideas. How? By appealing to your hope.

Though the wind still blows, pay attention to whatever is good and noble and right and possible in your situation. Let that penetrate into you instead of the cold. If there is nothing that feels warm, the ask, what good result lies on the other side of my current efforts? What else might there be to the moment than I can see at first glance? What has the potential to remain and lead to better things down the road? Let those things make you move forward with deliberate action.

Aim to feel the warmth of things in your life and thoughts more than the gusts. Those are the promises of God's goodness, your hope, the substance of things not seen yet. Write those down. Focus on those. Claim them. They're yours.

Then set your sights on what's further in the future. What's out there past what is? Focus and imagine. Discern it! God has plans for you that exceed what you've done up to now to just survive. He shines like the sun with warmth and promise of growth and abundance; let Him compel you to take off whatever manmade-means by which you've been protecting your true self. He will be a much more benevolent guide; He will steer your life better than any outside demands do. He will draw you into your destiny if you let Him. You will want to do what He compels because it's so good!

As you practice the skill of focusing on what is possible, you may be surprised how quickly the season progresses. Soon you'll notice the sun's warmth--God's goodness--is present whenever you look and you'll start to honestly believe His promise that the number of days in which you can enjoy His abundance are on the increase.

Seeing life in this way is the essence of walking in faith. Faith begins when we shift our focus from what is threatening us to what is beckoning to us. When our sights shift, our attention repurposes on what could be, and we begin to make shifts in consciousness to live inside of that which we want instead of what's trying to control us.

Live in hope. There really is always more. There really is a joy-filled purpose within and beyond everything you're going through. Your best is yet before you though, and it's better than you could ever expect. Believe it. Abundance is the truth; lack is a lie. Joy streams from knowing there's always more and living in the light of that hope. It is your strength for the work it takes to realize new things...but it's okay. Because of the finished work of Christ Jesus, our only work is to rest as we walk alongside Him and do as He does. This is the most fun part of a life filled with faith.

Hey, in Christ Jesus, you are rich already (and that doesn't always mean wealth in terms of money). Lean into abundance and thrive in joy. You'll have to grab onto what is possible and pull, then work through problems like anyone else to realize and occupy it, but with Holy Spirit as your guide, whatever you end up putting your hand to is gonna resolve according to God's favor. It'll all be worth it. Let go of what holds you back. Run with Him into what is out in front of you. He put it out there for you to discover and do.

Go have fun in the sun!

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