I just got back from a fabulous vacation. While I was away, I had been meaning to blog about welcoming the new year with faith and trust but each time I tried, I would feel overwhelmed. I know this year won’t be easy. Without going into details, there are new health issues that confront our family as well as church and ministry changes that have become evident in the recent weeks. I have more questions than answers, and the uncertainty is not comfortable at all. BUT more importantly, (and the reason I’m finally blogging now) is that God has once more pointed the eyes of my heart to His Son Jesus Christ, our Living Hope, and 1 Peter chapter 1 has once again spoken loud and clear.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now, for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-6
I know I will keep coming back to this passage and I will preach it to myself many more times. I need to plant my feet in his mercy, to fix my gaze on the inheritance that is mine in Christ, and to believe that God’s own power is guarding me. The bottom line is that Christ is my Hope and in him I rejoice. There will be grief but he has given me faith, more precious than gold, for his praise, glory and honor. This is what I need and what I pray for – faith that pleases him.
In his book, A Fiery Faith, A.W. Tozer emphasized that faith is a journey, not a destination. While on a lunch cruise in Southern Philippines, I noticed the meandering nature of the river and how it was simply impossible to see beyond the bend. It brought an element of surprise in that once we’ve passed a river bend and have admired the scenery in front of us, the river then curved to the opposite direction, which meant another bend that would open up another view. Some portions were more interesting than others but you always wanted to be ready with your camera because you just never know what you would see past the next bend and you wouldn’t want to miss it.
Our faith journey can take on a similar course. We don’t know what lies beyond the bend but we trust our Lord, the captain of our ship, to take us through. When he does, our lives, though difficult, will be full of truth and grace. In the end, what lies beyond the bend does not matter as much as the Vessel that is carrying us. He who created the river knows exactly where to take us to make us more like Christ, for his glory and our good.
I’m a planner and my human nature would very much love to plan in detail what this year would look like. But I know I can’t see beyond the bend and my heart is at peace with that. I’d rather have Christ, the Author and Perfecter of my faith take the lead every step of the way, to transform me and work his will in me and through me, until he takes me home.
“All of life is a lab for my discipleship. All discipleship involves truth and grace. When faced with difficult situations, I need not ask why. Instead I ask what does God want to do in me/through me in this situation.” Pastor Mark Spansel (from the teaching series on How People Change)