My brother, Mike, transitioned to heaven a year ago yesterday. The drawing that sits on top of this blog entry was one he drew many years ago. Many family members and friends now have a copy because Mike drew it and because it’s a laughing, joyful Jesus, which we all love to contemplate. Just look at that face and wonder. What’s making Him smile so wide and with such obvious delight?

Well, as the words state, it’s the joy of the Lord. And that is where His strength comes from. Ours, too, if we are truly living a life with Jesus at the center. This is a risen Christ, by the way. Note the wound in His hand. Just a subtle reminder as to why WE should be joyful. Jesus is our Savior whose resurrection reveals our own, one glorious day. Jesus is with us and He always will be. If we choose to follow Him. He invites. And then He waits patiently. He is endlessly patient, by the way. And His mercy and His love are also without any known depth. So, I hope that this smile inspires you to smile back and then to trust His promise that He died for us, because God the Father loved us that much and He’s coming back again.

For those of us who look forward to the glorious homecoming, this smiling face should give you hope. This joy despite the pain and anguish that preceded it can be ours, should be ours. We just need to open our hearts and let the love of Jesus in! Jesus was all about relationships when He walked on this earth 2,000 years ago and He still is. Relationship with Jesus is what we can have but we have to ask and we have to be willing to listen and to talk. That’s prayer.

So, yes, the Joy of the Lord is my strength, and it can be yours, too. In fact, the strength the Lord can provide may be just what you need some days, when you have no strength of your own. It’s about surrender when you’re at the edge of a cliff or when you think no one else could possibly care about you or what you are doing. Jesus does and always will. Tell Him about it all. And then, listen. You can read the Word of God (Bible) to receive His grace. You can read it to hear what He wants to say to you.

The Holy Spirit has a role in all of this, too! He inspired all of that Sacred Scripture I just mentioned (the Bible). Then, before Jesus ascended (a little while after His resurrection) He left His followers the Holy Spirit. Breathe in and the Holy Spirit will fill you up with that grace and peace of the Lord. And then, as I heard one time and I love, breathe the Spirit out again to share the joy you now know with the people you run into during your daily life.

Mike would share his love of Jesus and the fact that Jesus loved everybody every chance he got. And because he was so willing, God gave him multiple opportunities every day. He was a great example to follow. He still is. A legacy is what you leave behind in the people whose lives you touched. And Mike leaves quite a legacy. Because he always tried to follow Jesus. And that’s what we are all called to do. Follow the Leader. Mike did it and he brought many souls to the Lord, people who had lost their way, people who never knew there was a way!

And he was ALWAYS so full of the joy of the Lord. It was his strength. I’m happy to share the picture and this entry with you. See you when I’m supposed to, Mike! Thanks for your example of faith in action. He showed me that the best way to share Jesus, is to be Jesus for others.

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