I have big plans. I am pretty sure the Lord has given me those plans. That's why I pursue them. But as I look around right now, it's not at all obvious how the Lord will work it all out for me.
So I brought the matter to Him in prayer today. I imagined everything that would need to happen before my plans are realized. Places that don't even exist would probably have to come into existence. I'd have to learn so much and become capable of things I can't do even begin to do. I'd have to meet, build, and enjoy relationships with people I haven't even met yet. I pictured all these things in my mind and it was like they materialized around me. I looked all around at the obstacles and then I looked up to God with a question forming on my lips. But before I was even able to ask it, His Holy Spirit said to me, "These things, all of these, are a simple matter for me."
Instantly, I was corrected and greatly encouraged. I felt overwhelming peace about my future, whatever it is. I still don't know for sure what will happen. I still can't imagine how the Lord will bring everything about. But all of that is really simple for Him and I am no longer worried about it.
That's when I realized I don't even really care whether or not my plans come about. Not really. I think the Lord wants the same thing as I do. But if I've got it all wrong and He has something else in mind, I believe I will be fine with whatever it is, whatever He works out in the future. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit helped me articulate what I wanted to tell the Lord in that moment. I told Him, "Whatever it is that I do, I just want what I do... to cause you joy." Actually, I am not entirely sure I meant what I said until I said it, but as I said it, I meant it and as soon as I had said it, it felt good to mean it.
And just as if I was walking along with a friend, the Holy Spirit quoted the Scripture, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." So I thought about that verse. (Nehemiah 8:10) I have heard it often. I have always thought that it is talking about my joy, supernatural joy that the Lord will supply to me as I do His will. But I realized the verse might not be talking about my joy at all. There is something far more important than my own joy and that's the joy that belongs to God, the joy He feels over what I do. His joy, imagine it! His joy would give strength to do anything, anything at all, and continue doing it, if only I knew whatever I was doing was bringing Him pleasure.
As a parent, I understand this joy. I love fireworks. But I don't actually watch fireworks anymore. Now I watch my kids watching fireworks. We had family movie night, but I didn't actually watch E.T. I watched my girls watching E.T. and seeing their faces as Elliot flew past the moon made that scene better than ever. So, of course God feels this joy over us since He is, "Our Father in Heaven..." And His joy, that is and will always be true strength of purpose.