I want to share a few things from a prayer that I had on October 17, 2014 (Month 7 Day 20). I began with a blessing: Blessed are you Jehovah our God, Sovereign of the Cosmos, who gives reasons to rejoice. The Divine responded:
Yes, I do. But have you rejoiced?
You know, that is a difficult thing to hear about one’s self. To offer a blessing that is accepted, then basically informed that I, myself, do not rejoice. So it begs the question: what does it mean to rejoice?
I begin with the concept of the ubiquitous aspect of any church or messianic synagogue, praise, worship, rejoicing – the uplifting of hands, voices, songs. But I also include the ubiquitous aspect of life – marriage, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements – life achievements.
Those things are everywhere. I mean everywhere. We all participate in some type of rejoicing moment in our lives. Moments are crucial, important, vital.
But I ask: how many of us rejoice on a personal level because in our own spirit we have reason to celebrate?
I dare say that number is far fewer. For many, it is actually quite difficult to feel the need to celebrate. Why? Life. Life itself: failures, disappointments, unrealized dreams, missed goals, heartbreak.
We arrive at worship, and give our rejoicing. We arrive at a birthday or a retirement and give our rejoicing. But few of us have or feel deep in our being, a reason to celebrate, and find it difficult to be around those who constantly celebrate the joys of life. Yet, truth told, we secretly long to experience joy and show our personal, internal cheer.
So, have I rejoiced? Do I rejoice?
Candidly, not really.
It’s NOT because I am ungrateful. I am quite grateful, grateful to the Divine for my life and all that I have. But, let’s just be forthright, gratefulness is NOT the same as rejoicing.
For too much of my life I have allowed the concept of “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”. That concept is from the Apostle Paul as expressed in Philippians 4.11 ESV, becoming a mantra of many Christians.
But let’s be candid, shall we? The attitude in that verse is NOT about rejoicing. It is about learning to endure, learning to have patience, learning that there is purpose beyond the moment. But in light of those things, do we rejoice?
Yet, Jesus said that one of his purposes was that we might have life and experience life more abundantly (John 10.10). The abundant life is NOT limited to the eternal. Life includes the temporal, whilst we traverse this globe in the flesh, in our earthly tabernacle.
To be clear, I am not peddling a “prosperity Gospel”. I am criticizing the gospel that preaches a drudgery of life: self-deprecation, personal defeatism, social asceticism, and spiritual flagellation.
Quite frankly, THAT is not having life or having it more abundantly. THAT life finds it difficult to believe that Jesus died to give us life in abundance. THAT life finds it difficult to rejoice, because that life is forlorn, because THAT life interprets God as giving only eternal redemption, and that we have to live an impoverished life while in the flesh.
Rejoicing occurs when we accept that God provides not just eternal life, but temporal life, from houses to transportation, from education to occupation, from spouse(s) to children. Some will have less. Some will have more. Some will have a lot.
Returning to the prayer, the Divine answered the question presented:
Not yet. But you will.
That is what I am waiting on – the moment that my life ultimately comes together in this massive moment. It will not make some people very happy. Quite frankly, it will disappointment some while others will find themselves enraged.
My life has been dedicated to God, none other. I have sought the Divine’s purpose for my life. I have come to understand that purpose. When that purpose is fully engaged, then I will have reason to truly and fully rejoice.
With those thoughts in mind, it then becomes interesting to me that in the prayer, the Divine continued:
Now my son, hear this:
Similar to previous occurrences, this is not a moment to listen to understand and then do. Instead, it is something that the Divine simply wants me to hear, to receive information. The Divine then continued:
Let her look, let her think, let her feel – this is good for her, finding herself she is.
Considering that a pronoun is used, and that Mary is already decided about our marital direction, it seems improbable that information is referring to her.
It, therefore, is my assumption that the Divine is referring to Rachel. I can only speculate at what the statement fully conveys, yet from the statement itself it seems that it involves her finding herself.
When? Where? How? To what extent? Those are questions that I am incapable of answering. Furthermore, I feel inadequate to offer any speculation. I simply accept that the Divine conveyed those thoughts.
Later in the prayer, the Divine conveyed something interesting:
Happiness, you see, is not the obtaining, but in the hitting, the striking, of the heart strings, strings that people do not even know they have.
Perhaps that itself gives a clue as to why we, as humans, find it difficult to rejoice. Perhaps we truly rejoice when we find ourselves happy. Not happy as religion and the world teaches us, but happy because our heart strings make music.
From that then, it seems that we truly become happy when we discover what makes our heart strings move.
Some of us spend our entire lives looking for what makes our heart sing. We seek to make our own heart move because we know that it isn’t singing. So we investigate and learn from others what makes their heart beat.
It seems from this though we have to learn what it is that makes our own heart come alive. Since no two people are alike, then no matter how similar they are, their heart beats to its own unique God-given rhythm.
To find that heart beat, that music, takes the Divine.
To find that heart beat, that music, is joy itself, and causes merriment, being expressed in personal, heartfelt, rejoicing.
Blessings and Shalom