He will fill me with shouts of joy

I saw a news report recently that said people who get fewer than 5.5 hours of sleep a night have higher health risks than the average population. I told my husband that any new mom could have told the researchers that and saved the public tens of thousands of dollars on the study. Not only do sleep deprived people have more risk for diabetes, heart disease, depression, and a host of other health conditions, they become a risk to anyone who irritates them. Fair warning, people.

My littles aren’t “new” anymore, but they still don’t sleep as much as I’d like. Even if they did, I’d have to spend some of those precious quiet moments taking care of things that get pushed to the side when they’re awake. Praying, reading, writing, editing, cleaning, planning. Thinking. With so much going on, it’s hard for me to fully appreciate the joys God gives me. Good for me that God’s promises don’t have an expiration date.

Today’s confession gives me peace, and it comes from an unlikely place. Most of us don’t look to Job in the Old Testament when we want promises of joy. But it’s there in a few ways. Job 8:21 is a response where Bildad the Shuhite tells Job, “He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”

Er, perhaps not the best response to a man who has just heard of the loss of all his earthly possessions and the deaths of his children. I’m sure Bildad meant well, but he might as well have opened his mouth and put his foot in it. Deeply. Still, if you read the story through to the end, you’ll see that God did restore Job in full. In fact, he gave his servant even more blessing in the second half of his life than in the first.

He will fill me with shouts of joy.

Shouts of joy. Not shouts of irritation or impatience. Sometimes, I’m as quick to let loose with one as with the other. As I fight to keep my eyes open and my tone gentle in these sleep-deprived days, I confess this truth. He will fill me with shouts of joy. I’m not the only one to benefit from this promise. My whole family will recognize the change and the glory will go to God.

Are you shouting with joy or impatience these days?

I have a God-proclaimed purpose

When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher or a writer. As young as I can remember, I loved the feel of a newly sharpened pencil between my fingers. Attendance books, bulletin boards, construction paper. The school supply aisle was the eighth wonder of the world. Chalkboards, lined paper, pens, and NEW BOOKS. Have you ever smelled a new book? Now that’s something to behold.

As I got older and discovered the power of story, I felt drawn to the world of fiction. Telling a good story is just as transporting as reading one. There are a few differences, though: it takes longer to write a story so I can enjoy it more; I know the characters more intimately than if I simply read about them; and I get to decide their purpose – the end of the story.

As my Creator and the Author of life, God proclaimed His purposes for me long ago. Did He plan for me to be a teacher or a writer? Or something else entirely? Fear tries to edge in, convince me that I couldn’t possibly become anything worthy. It tells me that I’ll fail in everything I attempt.

But could it be that what I do as a profession is beside the point? Isaiah 44:8 gives me some clue. “Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses – is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock – not one!”

I have a God-proclaimed purpose.

His purpose for me – for all His creation – is to be His witness. There is no other God, no other Rock. How we choose to witness to the world might be irrelevant as long as it brings Him glory. Knowing this, I can move forward in my chosen profession – fiction writing – without fear.

How are YOU fulfilling your God-proclaimed purpose?