"What I'm about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God's kingdom like a little child will never enter it. Luke 8:17 (NIrV)
She was only 7 or 8, riding in one of the youngest divisions in the junior rodeo. She was clearly on a very well-trained and experienced horse and her confidence in him was unmarred by fear or apprehension or pressure of any kind. This beautiful little girl rode in every event for girls of her age group, and the entire day she rode with her feet out of the stirrups and a smile that never left her face.
She was the picture of pure joy! Everything seemed to exhilarate and delight her. You could see that she rode every race to win, but it was the doing of it that she loved--winning could only be icing on the cake for her. She loved the wind in her hair, the sun on her face and the horse beneath her that gave her wings to fly.
Ever since that day, when I think of the "joy of the Lord," this is the picture that comes to mind. No fear, no worry, no pressure, no need to put my feet in the stirrups, just amazing freedom and complete exhilaration in the ability to move through life in ways I could not do on my own. Running to win, all the while savoring every moment of being in pursuit of the victory. With complete trust and confidence in the One who carries me and has guaranteed that victory, there is no reason for me not to live in the joy of the Lord! Father, let nothing hinder the joy You give!
" . . . the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)