Catching Up w/ Kaleigh: The Giver and His Gifts

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Kaleigh wrote this post during her last week of Furman last month:

This week has been one of the most joyful weeks I’ve ever had!  As of Wednesday, I am completely done with all college assignments.  DONE!  I have no more papers, tests, or assigned readings.  Because I don’t graduate until next Saturday, I have ten days to simply live at Furman and enjoy life.

God has just been showering down blessings on me this week…

I was able to celebrate the accomplishment of finishing Furman by fountain hopping on the last day of class.

I was honored by the Sociology Department with kind words, fancy certificates, and financial gifts which will help me purchase my back pack this week (and much more).Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 10.48.57 PM

I enjoyed reflecting and rejoicing with friends at Furman’s Senior Send Off.

I celebrated a VERY dear friend’s 22nd birthday.

At my last night at Daisies, I was able to just enjoy the girls’ company, play games, eat cake, … oh, and thank them for raising over $200 for me in their fundraiser!

On Thursday, my small group leader surprised me with my new favorite snack– dark chocolate covered pomegranate.

Yesterday, The World Race made a VERY exciting announcement that parents are now allowed to visit for one week in month nine to experience the race for themselves.  MY PARENTS ARE COMING ON THE RACE!  I have cried tears of joy at least a dozen times about this news.

Last night, Grant took me on the first of a series of three “bucket list” dates, where we will be doing things I’ve always wanted to do before I graduate. It was a perfect night for baseball, and the fireworks were a fun surprise!

And, in the midst of all this excitement, I have found several hours to sit in the sun or lay in my hammock and enjoy some good books for pleasure.

My cup overfloweth. The joy has been filling up and spilling out all over the place!

Then, this morning, my mood took a nosedive.  I didn’t get the numbers I wanted on a lift at CrossFit, and I let it really bother me.  (Seriously?  In light of all of the blessings God has given me this week, I whine about a squat clean?!)  I continued to let teeny, tiny, insignificant things get on my nerves. What happened to my $15 plasticware utensils?  Why is it rainy today?  Why are they calling for rain all week?  Even in the midst of my pouting, I knew I was being absurd.

I began to reflect on the incredible week I’ve had.  I listened to feel-good music.  I read some more Kisses from Katie to put my “problems” (I feel embarrassed to even pretend they deserve that label) in perspective.  Despite all these valiant efforts to recapture joy, it remained elusive.  Why was I so grumpy?

Then, I remembered.  I didn’t spend any time with Jesus this morning.  My devotional video wouldn’t load, so I just gave up and spent some time on iTunes and Facebook.  I figured I would just do my quiet time when I got back from CrossFit.  (Here it is, 4:30, and I still haven’t.)

As I realized this, I also realized something even more important: My joy throughout the week hadn’t truly come from all the gifts I just listed above!

My joy-o-meter had been off the charts, and I thought it was because I had been fountain hopping in the sun and reading in my hammock and munching on chocolate and watching baseball with Grant and discovering that my parents could visit me on the race.  But that wasn’t it at all! Because today, all those gifts were still on my plate, but the joy was gone.  And even as I tried to focus my attention on all the gifts, my joy didn’t return.  I had been crediting the gifts, not the Giver, with the joy I was feeling.  Eventually, I woke up and just didn’t bother inviting the Giver into my day at all.

Suddenly, I am able to see where my joy was truly coming from this week: not a bunch of celebrations and surprises, but the revelation of God’s faithfulness, His presence in my daily life, His whispers of love and assurance of companionship, His friendship, His grace, His peace, His joy… Christ Jesus Himself.

Today, for the first time all week, I didn’t invite Jesus in to spend the day with me.  And when the Source of joy wasn’t invited into my heart and life, His joy couldn’t come in either.

John 15: 9 & 11 say, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  … These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

LIGHTBULB MOMENT!

I can’t have joy if I’m not abiding in Jesus.  My joy is in Him, even when I wrongly think I can credit it to transient “feel-good” gifts.  When I am abiding in His love and basking in His presence, He fills me with His joy!  When I have a thousand blessings, He is my joy.  And even when they all fade away, my joy can still remain, because my joy is in HIM, not His gifts!  Praise the Lord for the revelation of His truth and joy!

There I go again, God, looking to the gifts rather than the Giver.  How many times have I made that mistake?  Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes to the truth.  I need you!  Even better, I want You!  I am so sorry that as You showered love and affection on me this week, I began to believe the lie that the gifts were my source of joy. I am sorry that I let that lie lead me to stop spending time with you at all. Oh, how glad I am that You don’t give up on me, even as I turn my back on You.

Follow Kaleigh’s World Race Blog.

My good friend Kaleigh is preparing to go on The World Race, a mission trip to 11 countries in 11 months, this fall. Check back for updates on her preparations, as well as updates from around the world over the next year! — Tiffany

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