When the sky remains gray, I am compelled to do what everyone else does to soak up the Vitamin D…leave for Spring Break!
Actually, I am not on a spring break. I’m on a “break-away-from-spring-weather” break, that is. The cold snowy gray kind of spring that the Midwest is known for. I longed for a change of temperature and wanted to see a different landscape plus I had become quite homesick for my family. I began to feel grumpy and tired; not fun to be around.
So I packed my bags and headed to the place I love the most. Home! I love this place where the sun shines bright and the sky is the color of my granddaughter’s eyes. As I was pulling into our neighborhood, there is no way this beautiful Yoshino Cherry Tree would go unnoticed! I rolled down the car window and snapped the above photo with my iPhone. The sky was indeed as blue as it is in the photo.
I felt so happy to be home and had a lump in my throat pulling into the drive. Ah, the sweet pleasure of cheerfulness filled my being! So much so that I nicknamed that cherry tree, “The Cheery Tree” and I am more than grateful to gaze at it everyday from my kitchen window.
The next day after that first photo of a bright blue sky, the weather changed to windy cold, rainy and quite dreary. Exactly what I was wanting to get away from! Would I grumble and complain or choose to be cheerful?
The more I looked at that simple (and magnificent) cherry tree, while layering up with an overcoat and grabbing an umbrella, I began to consider what it means to be truly cheerful. It’s not totally wrapped up in a blue sky with cherry blossoms and warm weather any less than those cold, rainy gray days. All of those things are temporal.
Here are a two lessons I learned about cheerfulness from “The Cheery Tree”…
1. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
(Proverbs 17:22) It’s amazing how much joy and hope you can find when you look hard for it. Look for the “good medicine” all around you. And when you have tasted the sweetness of God’s grace in the beauty of His creation, praise His name for all that! Joy in the Lord is what being truly cheerful is all about. I also began praying for opportunities throughout the week to be a source of encouragement and good cheer for my family. Within a few hours of praying that prayer, I received a phone call from a family member needing urgent help. Helping them was just as much good medicine for me as it was for them. A broken spirit refreshed by a cheerful heart, even on a bad weather day.
2. Sing more.
There is a short phrase from James 5:13 that I’ve been repeating over and over again. It goes like this: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” The more I sing spiritual praise songs, the more cheerful I am. Being cheerful produces more cheerfulness. Like the “cheery tree” just keeps on giving gorgeous blooms, my heart will overflow with overwhelming joy and praise to my Savior! There are two awesome stories in the Bible that are worth reading and thinking about. Both stories are full of adventure, warfare, and victory. I remembered reading in 2 Chronicles 20 about a choir singing spiritual hymns on the front line of the battle field. Their voices of praise and songs of worship was so honoring to the Lord of Hosts that [His] enemy was thwarted and terribly confused. So much so that upon hearing the loud choir, they were easily defeated by the good guys on God’s side.
And there is another lesson I read in Acts 16 regarding Paul and Silas, who were stripped and beaten with rods and then put in stocks in the inner chamber of a prison. They had reached rock bottom. The lowest possible place. They did what any of us would do in that situation…pray and cry to God for help! As the night progressed, they began to sing. I imagine their voices were loud and possibly cracking from shivering in the cold. Their legs and arms tensing in pain from being locked in the stocks for hours, they chose to sing. I love reading how God came to their rescue and freed them from the enemy and saved many others in the process.
Yes, I am grateful for the “Cheery Tree” and the simple lessons God has revealed to me about my heart. This place I call “Home” is not really my home. Home is where ever we live and with friends in our community. Coming away for family time is sweet and brings much cheer and respite, but it’s not the cure-all for lasting joy…true cheerfulness. I’ll head back to the Midwest in a few days, ready to sing and be cheerful through the grayness while hoping for blue skies too!