Bonnie Gray is the soulful author of Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, DaySpring (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit Bonnie at www.thebonniegray.com and connect with her @thebonniegray on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
It's been hard for me to choose joy.
That's because choosing joy isn't really about what I want to do. Choosing joy is about choosing who I really want to be.
And well, the time for me to be the-me-I-feel-God-created-me-to-be -- never seemed convenient, possible or easy.
I've always been waiting for a chance to be welcomed, to belong -- to come to a place or opportunity where I felt "at peace" about all the ideas that I've been carrying -- about who I could become or the life I could experience if I was no longer:
-- or if some of the family or friendships in my life were
I guess I've always been waiting to receive some kind of permission to choose joy.
I've longed to hear a loving voice who could whisper to me, in the moments I don't know what to do -- "Don't be afraid. I love you."
I've been longing for a father to love me. I long to be beloved.
Reflect. The Christmas Story
It takes courage to choose joy. Because choosing joy isn't about what we do, but who we long to be. Beloved.
And that can feel scary. Because what if joy isn't ours to stay?
God understands this fear — that’s why he never tires to whisper “Don’t be afraid. I love you.” God sent us Jesus.
Just as God chose to announce news of Jesus to the shepherds in the night sky with a simple announcement -- no explanations -- God does the same with us.
God whispers to us, just as he did to shepherds one dark night —
I choose you. Come and see.
Choose to be the beloved. Choose joy.
His timing is peculiar too. God hits us with an inspiration, when we’re feeling most inadequate.
Like the shepherds, we encounter God as we’re sitting on the outside, on the fringes of what we think is our best.
Just as we begin daring to believe what we’re hearing or seeing about God and His invitation — Whoosh!
Everything returns back to everyday sameness. The night sky.
Circumstances and people around all circling and in holding patterns, just as they’ve always been.
This is when we must hold onto faith and gather our courage.
Everything around us may not change. But, sweet friends, we are called to be changed.
In an instant, God calls us to leave where we are, to go and see.
Let’s say— just as the shepherds did to each other that night: Let us go. And see. Let us choose joy. Today.
“Let us go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15 GWT)
We need to say good bye to some old ways and even some familiar expectations.
It’s time to point our steps to move out. It’s time for us to choose joy.
Respond. Share Your Heart
As you enter into Christmas, be attentive for what God has in store for you.
No matter how brief the encounter, hold onto God's One Word for you this Advent.
He said it. And you heard it.
Dare to discover what the Lord has for you.
Celebrate Christmas born in you — and me.
Choose joy this year.
Pray. Our #OneWordAdvent Prayer Today
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help me to hear your voice.
Touch me once again.
Give me the courage to be your beloved.
Give me courage to choose joy.
I need you now this Christmas.
Be born in me again. Today.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
“This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time,
but now it’s out in the open…
The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you.“
~ Colossians 1:27 (The Message)
How is God calling you to choose joy this year?
Pull up a chair. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Share a comment below.
For more encouragment, read Bonnie's book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest named by Crosswalk.com as one of the Best Books for Christian Women in 2014.
Give the gift of rest to a yourself or a friend for Christmas. Order Bonnie's book and receive some free gifts until December 31, 2016. Click here.
Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. She has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.
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