King David cried out – “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,” (Ps 51:12a NKJV) in his penitent prayer to the Almighty.
Scripture also tells us that – “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10 KJV)
When I first came to Christ in April of 1989, I was full of excitement and eager to learn all that I could. I would attend services whenever the church doors were open. Fellowship with other members whenever possible. Read the Word. Study. Oh, and tell anyone and everyone I met about Jesus!
But first some background.
I was 30 yrs old, married with children, a construction worker and a child of the 60’s/70’s Hippie drug culture. I had relocated my family from Long Island to Vermont in the hopes of buying a home and living a simpler life. I was promised a great job working for a tile company in beautiful homes next to ski resorts. We moved into a nice house on 8 acres in a small rural community and for 6 months I was King of the world. I was making money and showing my fellow co-workers how we did things in New York. It was great! I made plans to buy the house we were renting and add onto the building. We were going to buy horses and do this and do that. Blah blah blah!
God had other plans. Thankfully.
One day I went to the shop to see where I was to work next and found the doors locked and a notice on the doors. The business had been shut down by the state and federal government. It seems the owner, my boss, wasn’t paying his taxes or sending in our withholding’s. Now I was a fish out of water. I didn’t know many people to connect with and keep working. All the other guys at the company went in different directions. I tried to find work in my field but came up empty. I did take a job washing dishes and scrubbing pots at a restaurant. I even go a part time day job in a factory. Both paid very little money and I was going threw what little savings we had. We fell behind in our rent. The possibility of buying the house was long gone. The cesspool was backing up on the lawn. My truck was falling apart and my wife was pregnant! I was quickly brought to a place in my life where I had no control over my future (I never did have control just never knew it!) . Out of work. Out of money. Out of choices. I was in a dark place full of fear, anger and hopelessness. The day that Jesus saved me started out like many days did back then. Seeing my step-children off to school and cursing the hopeless day ahead. A few days before this April morning I bumped into a carpenter I meet while working in one of those ski resort homes. His name was Tim and he had a quite confidence that just showed in his smile. Tim was starting a water filtration business and asked if I wanted to be a salesman. I hated salesman (sorry) and didn’t believe that I could sell anything to anyone. But I took the brochure and the demo video to look at. Day after day Tim would call to ask if I watched the video or gave the job any thought. I hadn’t and I let my wife screen the calls for me.
On the day that our Lord reached down from heaven to change my life I was having a hard time chopping wood outside and getting angry and frustrated with each swing. On one swing the ax handle split and cut into my hand. Partly because of my rage and partly due to the age of the ax. The cut wasn’t serious but blood was running down my hand like water. As I entered the house my wife was holding the phone in her hand with her other hand cupped over the receiver – “it’s Tim and he really wants to talk to you about that business.” Forgetting all about my hand I took the phone and started to explain to Tim that I wasn’t interested and he would have to come by to get the video and brochures because I had no truck and no money to fix the truck and no money to buy any food and that I would probably be better off dead or at least my family would be since I have an insurance policy and and and………I was yelling and waving my bloody hand around and feeling like I was on fire. When I finally stopped there was silence on the other end. I thought Tim hung up. He did not. He spoke softly and politely and said – “I’ve been there.” To which I snapped back with “So, what did you do?’
His answer was confident and unquestionable – “Jesus!”
Now I had heard about Jesus my whole life. There was always someone at school, or in town or a family member who was ready to say – “You need Jesus “or “Jesus is the answer” or “Jesus Loves YOU”. I was brought up Catholic but never really believed. I heard about Jesus. I thought I knew enough about Jesus to know that He wasn’t the answer. How was Jesus going to find me work? Or fix my truck? Or stop the cesspool from running across my lawn every time we flushed the toilet?
I needed answers and help – NOW!
But, when Tim said His name – JESUS – it felt like someone cut off the big toe on my right foot and all the darkness inside of me was flowing out of my foot and the anger was leaving with it. I cried so hard I almost fell down. Bracing myself against the wall my bloody hand was holding me up and under it was a calendar that was left in the house by the previous tenant. It was one of those old fashioned “Currier and Ives’ picture calendar with something written under the print. It read – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Ps. 119:105 KJV I never even knew that was there or at least I never read it. Tim prayed with me over the phone and came by later to give me a Bible and invite me to church. He also brought over some music. He gave me some cassettes of Christian music. Michael Card, Keith Green, Integrity Hosanna, Larry Norman to name a few. They were bootleg copies which I have since purchased authorized versions of but the music lead me into the Word and the Word lead me closer to the Lord and so on and so on…..
I went to visit Tim’s church that Sunday which was Easter Sunday and fell in love with worship and the freedom of just saying I love you Lord. We made friends and grew in the knowledge of the truth but things never did pick up for us in Vermont. Eventually we returned to NY and many other things occurred as life went on but that’s for another time because the point I wanted to share with you is this –
THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH!
No matter what you are going threw Jesus IS the answer. I found strength to endure the difficult experiences since that April afternoon by either singing songs of praise or reading the Word or just holding on to and trusting in Jesus. The music Tim gave me would have a lyric in it that sounded like it came from the Bible and so I would look it up and find it there and read all about it and grew deeper and closer with Jesus.
So, whatever lifts you up – reading or music or fellowship – just do it (oops! sorry Nike) and be strong in the Lord and the Power of His might. Be Blessed