I am writing in the aftermath of the snowstorm. Here in Lockport, the sun is shining. The sky is blue. The pine trees that line the Davis homestead are picturesque; dusted with clumps of dazzling white snow, the branches gently swaying in the wind seem to deny the intensity of the bitter chill. I have just savored my second cup of delicious hot coffee, and I marvel at what a difference one day makes.
Yesterday, coming back from Niagara Falls, Ontario, my husband and I were thankful for the four-wheel drive on our SUV. We left the glorious clear skies and sunshine of the Canadian morning and crossed the Peace Bridge into blinding whiteouts, dangerous wind chills and travel advisories, which were bans in areas south of the city. After dropping my husband off at work, downtown in Buffalo, I was amazed to note how blinding the blowing snow was, with each rising part of the Thruway, from the 190 to the 290 to the 990.
At home, the plows had raised over a foot of snow at the end of my driveway and my front stairs were almost completely buried in the blowing, drifting snow. Needless to say, along with school, all music lessons were cancelled.
As I marvel at the intensity of snow in Western New York, I also marvel at the resilience of Western New Yorkers. In spite of the bitter cold, I saw people stop, grab a shovel and help a fellow traveler dig his car out of a snow bank. In the "city of good neighbors" and beyond, Western New Yorkers stock up, bundle up, cozy up, plow, shovel and blow away the snow that is a regular part of our existence. We find a way to go on with strength, resilience and a smile that reminds us why we continue to call this part of the nation "home."
My journey home through the snow was a reminder to me that there are times in life when we must seek the pathway that leads to joy, especially in the middle of life's stormy circumstances.
Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Nehemiah 8:10 says, "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I am led to conclude that, if the joy of the Lord is our strength, and that if fullness of joy is found in God presence, then we must intentionally seek ways to be in His presence in order to be at our optimum spiritual strength. The book of Psalms is full of raw, honest human emotions and in seasons of "soul storms" I have found myself praying:
"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." — Psalm 43:5
I remember the verse about putting on the "garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" that is found in Isaiah 61, and I choose to lift my heart in prayer, my voice in praise and my hands in worship. Remarkably, I've found that when we adorn ourselves in garments of praise, we step into His presence, and regardless of our circumstances, we are dressed for "fullness of joy."
I invite you to dress for joy today.
Jackie Davis is an inspirational vocalist, musician and speaker with over 20 years of television broadcast experience. Her column is published every other Friday in the US&J.