Magnificent Joy

My husband and I went to see The Journey movie during Holy Week. I was deeply moved by the scenery, the music and the theme of the film. It seemed obvious to me that this once-in-a-lifetime journey that renown singer, Andrea Bocelli, and his wife, Veronica, embarked on was a bucket list item, especially for him.

And I was glad they shared it with us. 

The cinematography brought back memories of traveling through Rome. And the magnificence of God’s mountains and miles of vast open spaces was overwhelming, as was the musical talent. 

Much of the bucolic areas looked like they could be any number of places I’ve driven to or lived in the U. S. And I loved how each person brought an excellence of beauty everywhere they went, including to the ruins and memorials. 

I could see humility and gratitude expressed in different ways, from the first-time horseback riders, through the reuniting of family, to the race to reach home in the final stretch. Even in the delightful, intimate garden party that awaited them.

Wherever they traveled, they offered a message of “You are not forgotten.”

And I believe this is what our Lord would have us know today. 

He realizes the journey has felt long and hard for so many. But even so, He sees that they have glorified Him along the way. He sees that they’ve gotten back on their horses day-by-day to complete their missions.

And He gave us His magnificent joy as our strength.

To this point, our Lord gave me a divine appointment during this film. It involved an elderly woman, who sat beside me in the theater. 

Since the show was sold out with assigned seating, she and her two adult children could not get seats together. So, she sat beside me, and her family members sat in the row in front of us. 

The film began before this family showed up, and I was so caught up in the movie, it took me a moment to realize God put her there on purpose. 

What could have been a distraction was actually God’s direction to draw my attention to her. So, when she and her family blocked my view of the screen upon arrival, I glanced and smiled. When her phone went off, I glanced and smiled. When she needed help to recline her chair, I glanced and smiled and helped her. 

Once the woman got my attention, I noticed how much she enjoyed the film. I saw her deep, abiding joy. The music and scenery were so meaningful to her that she would hold her hand over her heart and gently shake her head. I saw deep longing on her face fulfilled.

My eyes teared to see this woman’s heart.

I wondered if she was a widow. I wondered if she was Catholic, like the Bocellis. I wondered what her story was, what her journey had been like. But since we couldn’t really talk during the film, I could only appreciate the part God allowed me to see in the little bit of light we had. 

And I came away changed. And this, I believe, is the biggest point. 

That God would move in the hearts of viewers to see something more, something magnificent that would stir us to move beyond where we’ve been and outside of ourselves. 

I believe God has some new relationships for many and that the ones we currently have are being enriched each day as we travel together along the path He has for us. 

Andrea and Veronica Bocelli readily admit in interviews that they could not have accomplished their dream journey without the help of several skilled and equipped travelers.

And neither can we. 

In a follow-up interview, Veronica said that, initially, she wasn’t sure she could complete this 200-mile journey on horseback and that, looking back, she wishes she would have enjoyed the journey more. She said that she learned a lesson about holding onto faith to complete the journey. 

And isn’t this what we can conclude when we look back at some of our own challenging assignments? That God With Us (Immanuel) offers us a magnificent joy to sustain us.

In this light, I am reminded of and encouraged by what Pastor Jack Hayford describes in his book A New Time and A New Place saying, “The summons to us in the Word of God is so magnificent. Let’s determine together to move toward a simple, humble relationship with our Savior, removed from . . . self-centeredness.”

He says that “this place of abundance and rest” is out there and that “it’s shaping itself right now on the horizon.” He says our “Lord is looking for open-hearted, obedient men and women who will stay in His [harvest] field, walk in His way, and believe that, in Him, today can be dramatically different from yesterday.”

I believe that can happen for you and me. 

Just as our Lord re-ignited that elderly woman’s heart when she looked upon a more beautiful place and time, God is taking us to a new and better assignment we’ve never had before.

We can learn from Veronica and hold onto faith and enjoy His magnificence in the journey. 

To God be the glory. 

This devo was graciously re-posted by the Salem Web Network, which includes

Faith Believing

It seems quite a few icons have passed into eternity recently. At least some we felt like we knew, if even at a distance. We could see their famous lives play out, beautifully at times. 

The one I’m most inspired by is Pastor Jack Hayford. He was a father figure to me from afar. I began listening to his radio broadcasts in 1979 on my drivetime to work. I was captured by the truths he spoke and impressed by the conviction with which he spoke them. He was someone I wanted to know better. Someone from whom I wanted to hear more. 

And then there was Franco Harris and Lisa Marie Presley. I didn’t know either of them personally, but I did serve Mr. Harris once when I worked as a flight attendant decades ago. I remember him as strong, kind and well-mannered. Ms. Presley, I had never met but I admired her beauty, her voice and her musical legacy. I prayed for her and her family.

I fought sadness in my heart when these people passed. It’s times like this, when our world changes as we know it, that I’m reminded we serve a faithful God. He is gracious beyond what we can comprehend, rich in mercy and reaches people and places we cannot. He is our only hope.

Holy Spirit always leads me when I pass through grief, encouraging my heart along the way. He often reveals to me when a loved one—or even a public figure—needs prayer or is about to pass into eternity. But this was not the case with these three people.

However, a few years back, when a relative was about to pass, Holy Spirit showed me a vision of their face late one night. I didn’t know exactly what was wrong. It just felt urgent. So, I immediately began to pray. 

When this person passed, I wondered if they knew Jesus; because I never knew their testimony. I never saw them attend church. So, in my quest for peace, I sought an answer from God. 

Holy Spirit showed me a vision of a simple, narrow cross lying flat on the ground. Then, in an instant, the cross stood up straight. My heart felt overwhelmed with gratitude, because I understood that God raised up a cross for my beloved relative. 

In time, Holy Spirit confirmed this to me with His Word in Ephesians 2:6 AMP, which says, “And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus.”

I was reminded that all that is required of us to enter into Heaven with God is our belief by faith in His grace through Messiah Jesus. 

We don’t often know what people hold in their hearts or say in their final moments. We don’t often hear their most intimate prayers or their deepest cries for help. But we can know God who does. And He can settle our souls with one revelation.

Lately, a few have come to me for private prayer in their profound losses. They’ve sought God to help their hearts along. Sometimes, He works over time. Sometimes, He works in a moment. But through it all, we can know that our best place with Him is up and forward. 

God has more life ahead for His grieving ones and the saints that have gone before us. Thankfully, He offers us an invitation to keep looking up, not behind. Yes, we have cherished memories. But divine restoration awaits us. First, in our hearts with Him. Then with others up ahead. This gives us hope.

We don’t have to get trapped in pain. We can grieve through someone’s passing and not camp there too long. 

When I consider Lisa Marie Presley, I remember myself, having lost a loved one at an early age and not knowing how to process through it God’s way.

I didn’t experience peace in this regard until years later, when I came to know God more and finally decided to trust Him enough to give Him all the pain and loss. Only then, did God begin to heal my heart. 

It has been decades since then, and I can honestly say that I can remember the loss but the pain has no effect now. It doesn’t hold me back from being and doing what God has for me in my life. 

He is the only One who can heal a soul this well. There is no honor in the unwillingness to release painful loss to the One who gives and takes away. We can choose to see and live as He wills—in the scope of eternity with so much more around us and forward. In this place of hope, it can be made well with our souls. 

So, pray with me if you will . . . 

Dear Lord, 

Thank You for Your sacrifice to heal my heart. Thank You for Your promise of restoration. I willingly give You all the grief of my loss. I willingly lay, at the foot of the cross, my way of coping. I willingly trust You with my loved ones who have gone before me. I ask You to remove all the pain from my heart and make it whole again. 

I realize that You, Lord, are full of compassion and no one has suffered more than Your Son. So, please help me to look up to You and receive Your abundant life for me under Your great cloud of witnesses, who are alive with You (He 12:1). 

In Jesus’ Mighty Name, 


This devo was graciously re-posted by the Salem Web Network, which includes