What a Glorious Day That Will Be!

Today is an unbelievably challenging day. Today would have been Dad’s 55th Birthday, and it is now his second in heaven. I believe with my entire being that on December 24, 2019, Dad was resurrected into new life and is celebrating eternity with Christ Jesus.

For this, I am thankful. I am thankful that he is no longer suffering. Instead, he is rejoicing. He is proclaiming the name of Jesus. And he is seeing sights that I can only imagine in my finite earthly mind. I look forward to the day when I see my Dad again, and ultimately, when I see the face of Jesus. As I sang in the homily that I delivered at his funeral more than a year and a half ago, in the words of Jim Hill,

What a day that will be

When my Jesus I shall see

And I look upon his face

The one who saved me by his grace

When he takes me by the hand

And leads me through the Promised Land

What a day, glorious day that will be!

Until that day, I will rejoice that Dad is in his eternal home, and I will constantly reflect upon the fond memories of a quarter century of time spent with Dad.

And yet, grief is still ongoing. It is still so extremely difficult. Coupled with the anxiety and depression I have experienced throughout my life, there are days when I simply want to do absolutely nothing. There are days that overwhelm me to where I feel as though the entire world is crushing my bones.

If you are reading this, and you are struggling with grief, anxiety, depression, etc., please know that your mental health is important. I am learning and striving to take better care of my mental health. Please know how important this is. Care for your mental health. God certainly cares about it. You should too.

I find one thing that helps me is sharing my journey, one that is rooted in the foundation of Christ Jesus. Yes, I have bad days. And yet, I still have joy. Even in the midst of everything Dad went through in his battle with cancer, he would always remind me of the joy that he had. I am thankful that Dad gave me a love of Scripture, gospel music, serving others, and the joy that can be found in Jesus. It is this joy that gets me through days like today.

Several weeks ago, at Seventh and James Baptist, a church I have absolutely fallen in love with the past few years, Dr. Angela Gorrell, a professor at Truett Seminary, shared with us about her new book, The Gravity of Joy. That night she shared parts of her personal story in which she found joy while researching joy. I highly recommend the book, even though I haven’t even started it yet, and I promise you that it is on my to-do list. Her story was an encouragement to me that even in the darkest moments in our lives, we can find joy.

So, why do I have joy?

For me, the answer is simple (at least it seems that way in my mind). Jesus Christ gives me this joy. I have joy because of a savior who was crucified so that I might have eternal life. I have joy, because while life right now might be challenging, I know that my savior defeated death, and I know that I will see Dad again, and most importantly, I will one day see Jesus Christ face-to-face.

I have joy because my earthly Dad showed me what it means to have joy even when times were tough, especially when times were tough. I have joy because of the memories of Dad that God allows me to reflect upon. Dad would often go to great lengths to encourage someone and make their day better (as he did for me countless times). Whether it was his coworkers and students during his years in Special Education, friends of his at various stages of his life, or close family members, I have lost track of all the stories of the goofy things he would do to bring a smile to someone’s face.

I have joy because of the faith I have in Christ Jesus, a faith Dad imparted on me for nearly 26 years, and even after his passing, I am still encouraged by his faith. I also have joy because my grandparents continue to encourage and uplift me. Whenever I need someone to talk to, the first person I call is my Nana, and she will of course let me know if I go a day without giving her a call. The presence of family members across Texas and in Indiana also gives me joy.

I have joy because I am surrounded by so many wonderful people in Waco and beyond. My Seventh and James family, especially, Erin, Matt, and Scott, encourage me more than they’ll ever know. My Truett family consists of so many professors, staff members, and fellow students (including my awesome roommate, Zach) who bring a smile to my face constantly, especially when I can share puns with Dr. Grear Howard. That man is a legend and a phenomenal witness of the gospel. I have also recently become a part of a group of friends in which we study God’s Word each week and occasionally spend time outside of Bible study by playing games and watching football. There are so many more reasons, in addition to these, as to why I have joy.

There are two other moments, specifically at Truett, that have recently reminded me of this joy I have. Two weeks ago, Truett hosted the African American Preaching Conference. It was a wonderful few days of amazingly gifted preachers who proclaimed God’s Word. One of the highlights for me was a sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Ralph Douglas West.

In his sermon, he emphasized 1 Corinthians 2:1-2. Here it is in the NRSV:

“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

He reminded us that it’s easy to preach Jesus Christ. Doing so is quite popular. What is more challenging, but absolutely required of us, is that we preach not only Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

It is because of a crucified and risen savior that I have joy in the midst of trials and challenges in my life. It is because of a crucified and risen savior that I can make it through days like today. It is because of a crucified and risen savior that I want my life to be one that lifts others up and advocates for others just as Dad did in his life.

The last moment I will share with you was last Tuesday in chapel. One of the songs in which my friend and fellow seminarian, Leah, led us in was “Give Me Jesus.”

I was emotional then, and as I have downloaded the song on iTunes and have listened to it repeatedly this past week, I’m still emotional. Here are some of the words:

In the morning, when I rise

In the morning, when I rise

In the morning, when I rise

Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,

Give me Jesus.

You can have all this world,

Just give me Jesus.

When I am alone,

When I am alone,

When I am alone,

Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,

Give me Jesus.

You can have all this world,

Just give me Jesus.

These past few years (especially early October and late December of each year) has been difficult. But, in those moments, Jesus Christ gives me hope. So, when I am afraid, anxious, depressed, grieving, just give me Jesus. Because he is why I have joy. Dad, thank you for sharing this joy with me throughout your life, and for continuing to inspire me through the work of the Holy Spirit. Because of a crucified and risen Savior, I know I will see you again. And what a day that will be!

Give Me Jesus by Danny Gokey

What A Day That Will Be by Jim Hill

Camp, Jeremy (note: not original author of hymn, but the lyrics I found are attributed to him). “Give Me Jesus.” AZLyrics. Web. 11 Oct. 2021.

Hill, Jim. “What A Day That Will Be.” Google Play Lyrics. Web. 11 Oct. 2021.

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