Going it Alone

from the pen of Jeff Joyner

Every other summer, we would spend a week, visiting my grandparents in Bay City, Michigan. My aunt, uncle, and cousins, also lived in the same town, so there was always an over abundance of activities to keep us occupied. My grandfather, who was a third generation Dutch immigrant, lived in a house that could have easily been mistaken for a residence in the Netherlands. Inside, was the smell of coffee, the sound of classical music, and the reflections from the stain glass windows, which lined the upper staircase.

My grandfather also owned a cabin in northern Michigan, which was situated on the Rifle River. There, we would usually spend a couple of days, canoeing, fishing, or watching my grandmother make one of her famous blueberry pies. Though it was summer, it was still chilly at night, so there was always a roaring fire in the fireplace. After dinner, we would usually sit by the fire, and plan our activities for the following day.

One particular night around the fire, I suggested that we all plan a canoe trip down the Rifle River. Although it was one of our usual activities, no one seemed to be interested. After trying a couple different times to persuade them, I got a little miffed, and said, “I’ll just go by myself.” Although my parents were a little hesitant, I was able to convince them to let me go, since I was a teenager, and worked summers as a lifeguard. I told them that when I was done, I would call them from the general store, so that they could bring the trailer there, to come and get me.

The next morning, I got one of my grandfather’s canoes, got on my life jacket, and headed down the Rifle River. About halfway down, I was going over a rapid, and unexpectedly hit some rocks. Next thing I knew, my canoe tipped over, and my feet became wedged between two rocks, right in the middle of the rapids. I tried for several minutes, but was unable to leverage myself enough to reach the canoe. I knew I needed help, and began to pray. When I was done, a Bible verse immediately came to mind, one that I had heard somewhere before during my lifetime:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” Isaiah‬ ‭43:2‬ ‭

As I glanced down once again at the rapids, I began to hear voices in the distance behind me. It was two people paddling a canoe. Help had arrived. I was eventually able to finish my course that day, and saw first hand, that God not only answers prayer, but that His intentions for us, is to never “go it alone.” For we will always need each other, until the day, when we finish our final course in life.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭

Find Rest

from the pen of Jeff Joyner

I came home, and threw the keys on the table. I was exhausted. The trials of life had become too overwhelming. I knew God was there, but my circumstances had led me to greatly question His love. The pain was just too great, the desert too dry, and the journey too long. I needed rest for my soul. As despair threatened to close in on me, I uttered to God, “You’ve broken my heart, you’ve broken my spirit, you’ve broken me.”

After sitting in silence for a while, I felt prompted for some reason, to look at the voice memos on my phone. Right away, I could see that there was something I had recorded a couple years earlier. It was a song in the making, that God had given me at the time, to work on at a later date.

Find rest my soul

In God alone

For He is good

He’s on the throne

For what have I

To fear or dread

Find rest my soul

Find rest my soul

At that moment, God’s message to me was clear. I had been looking for rest in all the wrong places. For true rest is not found in the changing of my circumstances, but in the unchanging ONE. For He loves me, He died for me, and He promises to lead me safely home. HE will forever be my light in the darkness, my oasis in the desert, and my rest within this restless world. “Find rest my soul, in God alone.”

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭

Do You Understand How Much God Loves You?

from the pen of Jeff Joyner

It was 1985, and I was on tour with our band. We were booked to do a concert in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, at a pavilion, which was between the beach and the boardwalk. As usual, we set up, got a sound check, and then took some time to “chill” before the concert. I was sitting on the front row by myself.After a few minutes, I noticed three guys walking towards me from the beach. I stood up, we introduced ourselves, and they began asking me what time the concert started, and what songs we would be playing. When I told them we played both secular and Christian music, one guy became extremely angry, that we would consider playing Christian music in a public place. The more I tried to talk to him, the more upset he got. After a while, I could see this was going nowhere, and that I needed to de-escalate things as soon as possible. I began to silently pray that God would intervene, and give me the words to say. What happened next was totally of God, for I would have never done this on my own. I stopped our conversation, and said his first name. When he looked me in the eyes, I unexpectedly began to cry. Finally, through the tears, and with great emotion, I said, “Do you have any idea how much God loves you?” For several seconds he stared at me in silence, and then looked down quietly. GOD had struck a chord in his heart. It was clear to me, that he had never understood, nor considered, how much God loved him. After that, they left quietly, and to my knowledge, never returned for the concert. As for me, I was left with a sense, that perhaps the tears that were shed that day, were actually God’s and not my own. Whatever the case, I will never forget that moment, and will always cherish this photograph that a band member took. For it will always serve as a reminder to me, just how great God’s love is for us. For me, for you, for each and every one of us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭

It’s Not What You Think It Is

About ten days ago, I was traveling from Florida to Virginia with a stopover in North Carolina. It was a difficult travel day. Flights were delayed and canceled. I spent long hours in the Charlotte airport trying to amuse myself. I won’t bore you with descriptions of the types of things I find amusing to do in an airport. At one point, I glanced out the windows and was shocked at what I saw. Never had I seen anything like this first hand. I grabbed my camera (aka my phone) with thoughts of potential fame and fortune.

Mysterious circles in the sky! Aliens over Charlotte? Flying motorcycles doing spinouts in the clouds? Whatever this was, it was paranormal fame in the making! Surely I would take my picture on a tour of television shows. Josh Gates and Expedition Unknown, here I come! But no. It’s not what it looks like. These mysterious circles are not in the sky at all. Nor are they mysterious. They are simply the reflection of the circular airport ceiling lights off the windows. I posted the picture on my Facebook page and everyone who saw it was initially puzzled by the strange photo. When I gave them the explanation they were amazed that they had been fooled. Well, maybe not amazed. But the lesson is pretty obvious: it’s easy to be fooled by photos today, even when those photos have not been altered or photoshopped in any way.