Peace, Joy, & Love

Dear Friends:

There’s a very famous prayer in the Bible called the “Prayer of Jabez”. It’s a wonderful prayer that I have recited more than once; entire books have been written about that prayer. But today that prayer took on new meaning as I focused, for the first time, on the last sentence of the prayer. Jabez had prayed for God to bless him, expand his boundaries, protect him from evil, etc. But the last line was simply this: “So God granted him what he requested”. Today, for some reason, that sentence resonated with in my soul like never before! I claimed that verse as being my epithet!

It struck me, as I was praying, that God was going to answer my prayers today! My requests today, like Jabez, were not for some selfish purposes but in response to my circumstances, and just like a good father would not give his son a stone when he asked for a fish, God is going to honor my petitions — He is going to take care of me!

But the funny thing is that after I had that epiphany, i.e. that God WAS going to answer my prayer today, I began to “make my petitions known to God”, and the spirit within me asked God for peace. I felt led to pray for peace — not camper enrollment or some other need! Next I earnestly prayed for joy &emdash; not cash flow or financial stability. Finally I felt an urgency to pray that my life would be a wellspring of love to others — rather than the other things I often pray for — success in my meetings, strength to deal with adversity, etc. Now I am not saying that I should not work for camper enrollment, financial integrity, or His hand to be with me as I meet with people during the day, but today I was reminded that ultimately the blessings my heart yearns for is peace, joy, and love. Success in this ministry, discretion in my meetings, and fiscal integrity might make me happy and even respected for a while, but the thing my soul desires is far beyond those temporal things. I was created to to love and to be loved, to enjoy the perfect peace that only He can provide when I am in a proper relationship with Him and the joy that comes when I am steadfastly trusting Him no matter what happens during the day.

What a blessed day today has been as I remembered that He has answered my prayers and that He will take care of me as long I simply look for the more important things in life first: peace, joy, and love.

Dean Barley

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