A few weeks ago, I woke up with the feeling of anxiety. Before I stepped out of bed, I prayed, “Lord, what’s going on that I feel worried and uptight?” I am glad the Lord knows all about me because almost immediately, I felt He impressed upon my mind, “The tea cups!”
Excuse me, you may be thinking… Tea…. Cups? Yes, I am sorry to say, that on this particular morning, tea cups had caused me to lose my peace. Let me explain.
I had been planning a special Ladies Retreat for the women of my congregation for the past six months. My plan was to present each woman with a vintage, delicate tea cup. It would work into my message for the day, and be a nice souvenir for them to take home and remember the weekend. So, as I visited second hand stores, antique shops and even my own attic, I was gaining quite the collection.
The problem that faced me on this early morning was, the retreat was quickly approaching and I still needed about 10 more tea cups! What would I do?
I got dressed and decided to use my day off in search for the tea cups. I drove about 40 minutes to a large second-hand shop I had not yet been, with full anticipation that I would be able to fulfill the need. This place was massive; however, I was so surprised that I was only able to find one tea cup upon the rows and rows of used china and dinner ware. “Well, at least, I have one more to add to the collection,” I thought…. but the anxiety seemed to mount. I went to check out and I couldn’t believe my eyes. (I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to.) The woman in front of me was purchasing boxes of tea cups and saucers! I had the thought of offering to pay double, but decided against it. I stood there in shock, anger and envy. As I proceeded to check out my lonely tea cup I mentioned to the cashier that it appeared the woman in front of me had cleaned them out of tea cups. She responded with a chuckle, “Yes, she bought every single teacup we had, I believe. She bought twenty of them.” Then she saw my purchase, and smiled as she said, “Well it looks like she left one for you!”
I went to the car and am honestly ashamed that I felt upset about this. I said to the Lord, “Really? Really, this woman had to beat me to it?” I started the engine and raced to my next destination which was to meet a lady I met on the internet who was selling a few more tea cups.
As I stepped out of my car, I was greeted by a happy lady holding a box of delicate cups. She shared that these cups were actually used for her church’s lady’s tea, as well. I explained that I needed about seven more within a week, and she said, “Oh, you will find them.” And then she said something that rang loud in my heart… with a huge smile on her face she said, “Happy Hunting!”
Happy Hunting…. Happy? Happy was the last thing I was feeling. And then it dawned on me, almost surprisingly so, that I was once happy with the idea of tea cups. The idea of presenting these women with a special memento had caused me joy as I thought of how it would bless them to receive a special gift. But somehow that feeling of blessing my friends, turned into dread, and anxiety. What once was a blessing had slowly but undeniably turned into a curse.
Before I pulled away from the parking lot, I quietly prayed to the Lord, “Forgive me for living this day with dread… for not enjoying the journey you have placed me on… for losing perspective and allowing something as small as a tea cup to steal my joy.”
Immediately… yes, immediately, I sensed peace and joy return to my heart and I decided right there that no matter how many more teacups I found… I would live this day happy!
Well, I’m sure you know the “rest of the story.” I found seven more beautiful tea cups at the very next store I visited. They were there all tucked into a small box, as if they were packed up and waiting for me to find. And you know, I believe they were!
What in your life has stolen your joy? Have you allowed something to interrupt your life with dread or worry? I believe it can happen so quickly, without us even taking notice. Maybe what you once prayed for has now become a burden. You may be anxious over more than tea cups, but the message is the same. God knows our needs. And He desires to turn our dread into joy! The key is to make a decision… WILL you choose joy? Will you choose to be happy on your journey? Let’s be on a quest for it… Let’s search for it as diligently as I searched for those tea cups. He will provide… He always does!
“This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24