I discovered a new Scripture verse that I really like…
“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” – Matthew 28:8
What about this verse do I like so much? Well, that little phrase in the middle, “afraid yet filled with joy.” Seriously, how cool is that!? We serve a God that gives us reason to be joyful even when we are scared! Usually, when I think of fear, I don’t jump right to joy. I’m walking down a dark alley in the middle of the night with no idea what’s around the next corner… Yes! Overjoyed! Okay, not so much. But this verse really got me thinking this morning. How many times in life do we feel like God is calling us to walk down that dark alley without telling us what will be around the next corner? We do not have to know or understand God’s plan, but we can still proceed with joy. In fact, we are allowed to be afraid, but we can “run” forward in joy! I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile! Sure, it would be really nice to be a fearless superhero, but God knows we are not capable of this. So, He acts as a constant source of joy. He fills us up and provides us with everything we need to carry on. Even when there is not a single reason to be happy, we can have joy. I have decided that happiness is an emotion…easily affected and changed. Joy, on the other hand, is a defining characteristic. A person can remain a joyful person in spite of very unhappy circumstances. Even the Lithuanian language distinguishes between joy and happiness. Laimingas means happy and is used to describe how a person is feeling. Linksmas means joyful. This is used to describe a person’s character, not their current emotions.
It makes me wonder… If I accept the joy found in Christ, and choose to hold onto it even when the road gets rough, how much more can God do with me? It makes sense to me that joy provides a source of endurance. It is much more pleasant to carry on with joy in my heart than without it! So, even when I am sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, nervous, unsure, or afraid, I want to be linksmas! I want to be the kind of person that digs down deep to find that well of joy inside and runs forward to tell the world what God has shown me.
Also, I want to give you a brief update on my work in the orphanage. First of all, a quick note: I met with the director of the Baby House yesterday to ask if they accept donations, either monetary or actual items, and she said they do. Probably the easiest thing for me to do is collect monetary donations and buy the things they need most (diapers, vitamins, etc.), then bring them with me when I come to work. So, my mom will be collecting money to deposit in an account and I will withdraw it to purchase as many diapers and vitamins as I can. If you have any desire to donate to this (no pressure, at all) either contact my mom, or hit the red “Email Comments” button above this post. This will allow you to send an email to me and I can respond with whatever information you need. The director was extremely grateful when I told her I was interested in donating whatever was needed. She said they are always low on diapers and vitamins and it is a struggle to have the needed funds.
It hit me hard the other day that I only have a few weeks left with my Little Snails. On Monday, I went early and stayed late because I wanted to spend as much time loving them as I could. It is great to see the improvements they make, even just from one day to the next. I am so proud of each of them for the steps they have taken (in a few cases, those are literal steps!) I wish that I were able to watch them grow up all the way and see who they become in 18-20 years. I will miss being a part of their growth and discovery moments when I go home… having those little hands holding my fingers as we walk slowly around the room, Kamilė realizing that I have a nose like she does, baby laughs that come from seeing the world upside down, and repeated opening and closing of drawers just to practice saying, “Ah-yoo” (an attempt at “ačiu” – Lithuanian for “thank you”). Even if I never see them again after this semester, I will always claim my Little Snails as family.