"What can I get you?" Paul asked as he stooped over me.
"New tonsils," I replied. It was week two of mono--a virus like the worst, longest, and most painful flu you can imagine--and I felt like a disgusting ball of misery.
Paul laughed softly and seated himself next to me on the couch, careful not to bump me or to move suddenly. After hours--weeks, really--of caring for my every little need, he knew that my best therapy was simply having him near.
"Thank you," I croaked. "You work so hard all day and then you come home to take care of me. It must be exhausting."
The sag under his eyes and the weariness etched into his forehead told the story of too many sleepless night and long days, but Paul simply leaned over and kissed my forehead. "It's my pleasure."
His pleasure. He could have said, "It's my job." And that would have been true. A husband's job is to care for his wife sacrificially. But he did not emphasize his duty. He emphasized his desire: the joy of serving his bride as Christ served His bride, even at his own expense.
...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross...
When Christ looked into His future, past the cross, He saw joy. He saw His Bride striding down the aisle of prophecy and history, and He saw a marriage feast for the woman upon whom He had set His love. He saw fulfillment of all the grand redemption that His Father had set into motion before time began.
Joy motivated Christ. Not simply duty or obedience--but joy! Delight. Love. Desire.
I heard Christ's heart through my husband's words and it broke me sweetly, and breaks me still. I desire that desire. I look for the motivation that springs not from "thou shalt" but from "Yes, beloved!" I want duty to become a dance, and obedience to become joy.
I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.
Too often, it is a chore to read God's love letter to me. A weariness to carve out a few minutes from my day to pray. A burden to bestir myself to more ministry, more reaching out to others.
And then... then there are those sparkling seasons when Christ's heart burns in me and I see through His eyes. I taste and I see that the Lord is good. I see the seeming limitations of His law as the means by which to live more fully, more joyfully, and more passionately than ever before. I see the burden of service become the blessing of selflessness. I see the joy set before me, and it outweighs and outshouts every claim of pain or weariness or discouragement.
I obey because it is my joy. I serve because it is my privilege. I do because it is my delight.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.