I am pretty darn excited about our guest poster today. She is one of the most infectiously joyful souls I have ever been blessed to meet. Her smile is downright contagious and she has a beautiful knack for sowing encouragement wherever she goes. I asked Anna to share something from her heart this Valentine’s Day and what she delivered is so chock full of wisdom and insight that I could hardly wait for this post to go live. So without further ado, here’s Anna!
This blog is absolutely stunning – isn’t it? I just love how I’ve been able to watch it come together over these last few months. The colors, the patterns, the vibes– it’s so joyful! Which got me to thinking about the name Stephanie chose for her business: The Joy Parade. How fun is that?!
There’s so much truth it and true joy is welcomed with gates of praise.
One of my favorite stories happens to be tucked between the pages in one of the oldest books of history this world has to offer. It’s a tale that tells of adventure, glory and triumph.
Let me set the scene for you.
Three armies are about to go to war- It’s two against one. Our team- the underdog of it all- is the smallest army let by a man named Jehosophat.
His name is Jehosophat.
(Kinda like geez-hes-so -fat)
Back to the battlefield.
Jehoshaphat is about to lead his small army into battle and he’s slightly shaken. The odds are against him and he knows it. But he also knows that the Lord God has called him to fight this battle. So, knowing that, he does something totally crazy by human standards, something that no commander of any army would ever dare to do.
He calls for his praise and worship band and tells them to lead the army to battle. That’s right. These men are unarmed. Some hold instruments instead of weapons, others hold nothing in their hands at all.
He positions the musicians in front, and instructs them to lead the army in praise:
“…Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
“ -2 Chronicles 20:21
The army begins to make it’s way into battle. Being lead -quite literally- by the music. Then, when they arrive to the place that overlooked where the battle was planned to begin, what they saw left them speechless.
The other two armies had turned on themselves and all that was left were the bodies of their enemies- not a single enemy soldier had survived.
Immediately Jehoshaphat led his army to collect the plunder that had been left behind. So much was left that it took three days to collect! The army returned to their town of Jerusalem continuing in songs of praise, abounding in joy and completely overwhelmed by the Lord’s provision.
The reason that story is one of my favorites is because regardless of if Jehoshaphat had won or lost the battle he did something incredible: he lead his fight with songs of praise, proclaiming and glorifying none but God.
He didn’t wonder or worry, or spend hours trying to figure out how he could win– he knew all of that was pointless. In the end it wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about trusting what God had called him to do. Only God could give him the victory, and if God chose to, Jehoshaphat would lead his people to battle in praise, and if God chose to not give Jehoshaphat victory, he would still lead his people to battle in praise.
So much of our joy depends on knowing who God is. Joy only fades when we lose sight of his sovereignty. I mean it. Life isn’t about us, its about proclaiming how good God is in spite of us. We are imperfect creatures stained by sin, and yet we burden ourselves with the idea that our lives have to be a certain way in order for us to be happy.
Happiness requires only one set of circumstance to exist. But joy -oh joy- joy requires no specific circumstance because it isn’t based on circumstance. Joy is based on something that never changes- and that’s God himself. Joy takes the pressure of us feeling like we have to “have it all together” or “know all the right answers”. Joy isn’t based on those things, it comes from knowing that we are protected and covered by the arms of Jesus Christ, and he filled our imperfections, he drowns our worries, and he covers our anxieties with his perfect grace and love. Our lives don’t depend on us- they depend on him. Sweet friend, I want to live a life abounding in joy. I want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that who I am and what I do far exceeds me. I want to have peace in all circumstances and know my savior.
Joy, is welcomed with gates of praise. So, if you want that to, start today, but praising Jesus for who he says he is– not how you feel– because then, joy will abound in your circumstance because you know whose you are.
** If you would like to read the story of Jehosophat for yourself– and you should– check it out here : https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+chronicles+20&version=NIV