Friday, August 20, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: A life lesson about joy learned from a child

Joyful Abandon
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!” – Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

When our oldest granddaughter was about three years old, we visited at our son and daughter-in-law’s church one Sunday. The children were in the nursery, but as soon as the service was over, they were reunited with their parents. As we waited eagerly for a glimpse of our sweet girl, we watched the doorway to the nursery as other kids came out. After what seemed like a long wait, our son finally appeared holding our precious little one’s hand.

What happened next is something I’ve treasured ever since. Corie let go of her daddy’s hand and ran full-tilt to me, calling, “Grama! Grama! Grama!” Then she flung her little body into my arms, and we went round and round in the nearly empty lobby.

That day, a beautiful life lesson dawned on me:
Jesus Christ waits eagerly for His children to come tearing toward Him, even more eagerly than we waited that day. He relishes the moment we fling ourselves into His arms. And when there is joy motivating our reunion, it makes it all the better.

And there’s another lesson, too:
The Lord gives every one of His followers a set of talents specifically tailored for each person. Our giftings are as individual as we are, and God’s creative power gives us our own personal mission in service to Him.

The secret to serving the Lord is joy. It’s the story of the little girl in my arms. She ran to the grama she loves. With no thought about whether I’d catch her, she leapt with complete abandon. Then in celebration of our reunion, she experienced the joy of spinning crazy circles, secure and loved.

When Jesus said, “Follow Me” to Simon Peter and his brother in Matthew 4:19, He said it as a continual invitation to us, as well. Matthew records that Simon and Andrew immediately dropped their nets to follow Jesus. Two work-hardened fishermen walked away from everything they had always known to follow their Savior into an unknown they couldn’t even imagine. They ran! They jumped in with both feet! And their lives were never the same.

It’s not always easy.

My first teaching job started on October 12, 1994. I admit I didn’t run toward it, let alone jump, but from the very first day, God walked through it with me. Because of His love for the students in my classroom, He gave me love for them, as well. So, I learned my mission: Love high school students who didn’t want to be there and teach them how to learn. Piece of cake, right?

Looking back on those early years, I can answer with a resounding “Yes!” I was finally serving Him with the specific gifts He’d given me when He created me. With each new day, I was able to look ahead to whatever the Lord placed in my path with joy, and yes, sometimes with trepidation. But God walked me through it all. I was never alone, although it sometimes felt like the world was spinning madly.

Teaching wasn’t easy, nor did I always obey. For one whole year, I stayed at a school where I was clearly not designed to be. He had another job for me, but I was perfectly comfortable where I was. Christ’s lesson finally sank into my heart, and He opened another door. With a clear path ahead of me, I was again able to run with joy toward each new day. His forgiveness is transformative.

Now retired after a full career, I still wake up and ask the Father what we’re going to do today, and the answers look very different. Sometimes, especially during the pandemic, the answer is to encourage women in Bible study, to check in on friends and neighbors, to write, and mostly, to study His Word (The Holy Bible) to share with others, and always, to pray. The trick is to still leap to the task in front of me with that same joyful abandon.

The reward for obedience is that we do all things through Christ because He strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Jesus, the Lover of our souls, is with us.

Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You said that we will have life in You, and that we will have it abundantly. Please help us to love and serve You—the Lord of Heaven and Earth. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:
During this time of quarantine, Karen enjoys reading, writing, and connecting with friends and family via phone calls, texts, emails, blogs, live-streams, and video conferencing.  

She is grateful that the Lord has provided so many ways for humankind to stay in community, even when we are all hunkering down in our homes.

Karen says, “In this unprecedented time, we know that He has prepared us for such a time as this! To God be all the glory!”

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address:


  1. Wonderful devotional Karen. Truly said from your heart. These last few months have been especially trying for us and the Lord has seen us through and just recently another crisis that I told you about. God is good and has our future in His loving, caring hands.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Yes! The Lord is always good and we trust Him with every situation. He is for us!
    Karen Marstaller


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