Sandy Halvorsen -
It was early Saturday morning and I was awakened with a clear vision that I had just received in a dream.
I don’t often remember my dreams, so any that remain with me get my attention, and my first question is, “Lord is this from You?” It seems that there is a thin place between heaven and earth in those moments when we first awake. Our noisy thoughts aren’t in full gear yet, and we can hear more clearly from the Lord at that time.
The image I had that morning was that a thin, silver box wrapped with a silver band had just been placed in my hands. I intuitively knew that I’d just been given a Divine gift of joy, and I was delighted to receive it! Then I was handed a second gift, a bronze box, larger in size and wrapped with a bronze band. What could this box represent? I wondered. Then the verse from Nehemiah 8:10 came to me and I realized that the bronze box was a gift of strength. I also thought of Psalm 18:32-34: “It is God that girds me with strength…He teaches my hands to war so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
Both boxes were yet unopened and I felt that I had choices to make regarding that. I could keep them wrapped and admire the boxes that they came in, or I could open them and actually apply the gifts to my life, to my everyday walk through this realm.
Also, the bronze box was noticeably larger than the silver one, and followed it. I felt that this indicated that a surprisingly large influx of strength would follow a seemingly smaller decision to choose joy as a response in any given situation.
This has been a theme that I’ve been challenged with by the Lord lately; to choose joy when assailed by other emotions that aren’t as friendly. So the dream was a lovely reinforcement of what the Lord has been patiently trying to teach me. There I was with two precious, divinely-wrapped, treasure boxes, and with them came the ability to use the gifts they each contained!
Looking at Nehemiah 8:10 (with the Strong’s definitions in brackets), it says, “…Be not grieved and depressed, for the joy (rejoicing, gladness) of the Lord is your strength (your fortified place, your defense) and your stronghold.”
And also from 1 Chronicles 16:27 we read, “…strength (force, security, boldness, power) and joy (rejoicing, gladness) are in His sanctuary (His place, His location).”
We get the impression from these verses that the gift of joy actually is the joy of the Lord. It is His nature and it flows from Him. It is found in His sanctuary, His location, so we can open the gift of joy and be strengthened by it when we come into His presence and hang out in His location. When the decision to choose joy instead of worry or fear has been acted on, we are divinely strengthened. No gates of bronze can keep us out!
That night and the next morning, John and I were prayed over, commissioned and sent out by our local church to walk the nation, and it was no surprise that receiving joy and strength were the common threads through many of the words that were spoken over us.
Joy in the planning, joy in the praying, joy in the weeping, joy in the walking, joy in the warring, joy for the journey. And this joy brings with it a mighty influx of strength.
I pray that you receive these gifts from the Lord as well. May we all be contagious; spreading God’s joy to everyone we meet.
Hey, America! “The Joy of the Lord is your Strength!”