I played a question-asking game recently and was asked to describe my favorite day. I thought about all of the possibilities and landed on an idea: I would be on the Greek Isles, and I’d want all my closest friends to be there with me (from all over the world). I’d want to be on the blue water and wake up surrounded by a white canopy and linens with golden light streaming into my room. I’d eat blackberries, goat cheese, and honey – and maybe some nice French bread sliced with a bunch of fancy jams. I’d want to have breeze through my hair and see beauty all around. And just for fun, I’d want Gregory Alan Isakov to play a private concert with an accompanying orchestra at night.
I love all of these things, so it was strange that I felt somewhat depressed after imagining the day finishing, like it was somehow incomplete. These things are lovely, but it wasn’t really my dream day. Why? Because I’d left no space for my favorite thing in life – flowing with Jesus in what I do and seeing the world through his eyes.
He is always with me, whether I tune in to Him or not. But consciously walking in step with Him is the joy of my life, and it is what I felt lacking when I envisioned my day in Greece. Truly, the only thing my soul craves is intimacy with Him, following where He leads and being surprised by Him.
When I think of my favorite days on earth so far, I think of the times I’ve felt Him the closest. I think of when I was in Haiti serving alongside some Haitian young adults. There were two of the most joyful moments of my life there. For one, I poured my insecurities at God's feet and asked Him, through tears, what He thought of me. Then I opened my eyes, and written in chalk in front of my feet were the words “You are beautiful.” (my friend wrote it at the perfect time and I didn't notice with my eyes closed and headphones in). The second moment was with our team. We started a dance party on a dirt road and the Haitian people joined us. We drank Coca-Colas as we danced, watching backflips and “dougies” while roosters walked aimlessly around us. When I think of heaven, I think of that day.
I recently went to Miami for my 30th birthday. I went with three of my favorite people, and when I was on the flight, I asked God that it would first and foremost be a trip with me and Him. Every detail I gave to Him, and I saw how He rejoiced to be with me.
On the flight there, He gave me a window seat that oddly had no chair in front of it, leaving double legroom. When I called for an Uber at the airport, the price dropped to half price for a minute. Then my driver put on Christian music (and God told me just to enjoy). When I arrived at the hotel, I realized it was specifically for writers and designed to be a safe haven from the partying culture. I walked up to my favorite kind of old music playing, sat down at the restaurant and enjoyed my favorite meal. Every restaurant in Miami was a dream, and even when, at the nicest one, my reservation was unexpectedly missing, the manager led us in straight away. My friends loved each other just as they loved me, and they continued to show me how blessed I am to know them. On top of that, we ended up getting one night for free at the hotel. What a trip!
I asked God about every step and felt so tremendously covered that I was slightly confused when I boarded my flight home and was assigned an aisle seat in the back of the flight. After being so spoiled by Him, I wondered why God would seat me there. Towards the end of the flight, the woman in the seat next to me asked about our destination and my home, which is Raleigh. She told me she was visiting her sister here because her husband had died recently and she needed company. Right then, God spoke so clearly to me. Tell her his death wasn’t her fault.
I argued a bit with God because it seemed like an odd thing to tell her. But, eventually, I prayed for her and told her God was saying it wasn’t her fault. As she heard these words from God’s heart, she broke down in tears and shared that she was struggling with believing it was her fault. She believes in miracles and thought that maybe if her prayers were stronger, he would have been healed. God saw her and saw this lie that was eating away at her. He sent me (who could totally understand her fears and her doubts) to tell her that, without a doubt, God wasn’t blaming her.
To me, seeing the way God cared for her heart showed me the joy of being alive. Knowing God had a reason for that seat, and for the Uber driver, and for the hotel, and for every detail… was my heaven. I’ve come to see that when I align my heart with His, my joy increases.
For some reason, it took this question game and envisioning my logical favorite day to realize I already had what I craved most: to be close to my Father’s heart and to live in Him. I want to be in His hand, walking in step with Him, being available to His leading and the way He wants to love the world through me.
When I think of my favorite moments in life, I would never have dreamed up any of them. All of them (like in Haiti and Miami) were more than I could have imagined. They felt like grand surprises from a Father who loves me. So, even my best imagined day, without accounting for His presence in the following His whims way, felt lacking because I have learned that His goodness exceeds my expectations! I trust him so much that my real ideal day is better described as “being with Jesus and seeing what He has for me.” This brings more joy to my heart than the dreamy Greek Isles.
Sometimes I forget the life I was meant to have until moments like this, when I sit in full realization of what bliss actually is and how He overflows my cup to the fullest. I see, with eyes wide open, the design He intended and how He created me to light up by walking with Him. He makes for the best day ever, and whether He provides fun surprises just because He loves me, or whether he shows me a way to love others, it is walking with Him that satisfies my heart.