We are beset round about with trials and troubles in this life on earth. The struggles that overtake us seem multitudinous and overwhelming, and it is difficult to discern the good from the best, and likewise the will of men from the will of God. But in it all, there is a shining light that comes to shed its warmth on the coldest difficulty we face.
We do not exist to live for this world and the things in it. We exist to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Our ultimate destination is glory, and we reach glory, in God’s providence, by walking an earthly path. On this path are so many distractions from our real destination. There are things for which we must take responsibility pertaining to the physical realm, but we ought not to become absorbed in caring for the things of this world. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” -Matthew 6:31-34
It’s difficult and often painful, this severing of our thinking from the things that we can see, yet we know that we are chosen “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” -1 Peter 1:4 The life of Moses offers us an almost incomparable example of faith in God, who esteemed the reproach of Christ to be of greater value than all the riches of Egypt. There is great treasure to be had in glory for those who persevere in the face of faith-defying troubles. We can rest in the knowledge that this world is not our home, and there is unspeakable joy in living for the end of the journey and the King who has laid out our life’s course.
At the end of our pilgrimage, it will not matter how many earthly sorrows we endured, how many burdens we carried, or how great was our suffering. What will matter is that we have been conformed to the image of Christ, that we ran our race with endurance, that we looked unto Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. When the sum of all things is taken, it will be glory to have borne our crosses well, to have maintained our steadfast gaze on the things of God, and to have pursued those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” -Romans 8:6
A few days ago while reading through Haggai, I noticed that the word “consider” occurs four times in this little book of two chapters. Twice when the word is used, it says “consider your ways.” God doesn’t want us to walk aimlessly through life, but rather He wants us to live with purpose and intentionality. I think taking time to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) and “consider” is an important part of this. When we hurriedly run through life, it’s easy to lose focus and track of where we’re going. But if we’re taking time to “consider,” we can hear and know the voice of God, receiving counsel, courage, and direction from Him.
So when thinking about the word “consider,” three areas I need to consider immediately came to mind.
(1). Consider who your God is. “Who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doeth wonders” (Psalm 77:13b-14a). “The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32b). The more I ponder the wonders of knowing God, the more impressed I am with the need to know Him. Knowing Who He is will transform my thinking, my responses, and my life.
(2) Consider where you have come from. “That the generations to come might know them… that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:6a, 7). We see this on a large scale, especially in our family, because we’ve been blessed to be 3rd-4th generation Christians. But what about the 5th generation? Will they know the works of God, or will my generation forget where we’ve come from and what we’ve been given and fail in passing on the faith? And then on a “small” scale, there are so many examples of God’s mercy toward us in day-to-day life, yet we miss so many of them in our busyness. These “little” things (like safety in working with lawn equipment, or protection for us and the van in the two close-calls we had last week traveling home from VA, or the number of guests that God has sent to the park this season…) are so important to remember, too.
(3) Consider where you are going. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a). What are my goals, and why are they my goals? Am I spending time in selfish pursuits or investing it into eternity? What are the motives what I’m doing?
I think taking time to consider helps to fill our hearts with expectation for what the Lord wants to work in our lives. Today, even in the midst of your packed schedule and rushed busyness, take a few moments to consider, and praise the Lord for His daily mercies upon you.
The Lord God is a sun. That is a statement I have often read and, to my own loss, passed over in a hurry to get to the end of the verse. The end of the verse is striking in its own right, but so is the beginning.
The Lord God is a sun. The sun, put simply for those of us who are not scientifically inclined by nature, is our ultimate source of physical light and warmth. Without it, we would starve and freeze to death. It is essential to life on planet earth. Other planets are either too close to or too far from the sun, and thus cannot sustain life.
I was walking out of doors in the middle of the morning – definitely one of my favorite times for being out. Everything seems have an undercurrent vibration of freshness and life; the world is fully awake yet has neither reached the heat of the day nor drawn near to the darkened end. It was one of those days in which you don’t have to be outside for long in order to feel the sunshine penetrate every fiber of your being. As I became aware of the delicious warmth seeping through me, I was struck by the beauty of the phrase: The Lord God is a sun.
There are many, many days on which I am discouraged by an absence of emotions in my spiritual walk. To be sure, I still read God’s Word, memorize and meditate on it, spend time in prayer – but all of these things seem like mere duties. Duties I enjoy, but just duties nonetheless. It’s on days like this that I am aware of the Lord’s presence, just as you are aware of the sun shining on many average days. It’s there; beautifully, gloriously there. You can see the effects of it all around you, but you cannot feel its nature piercing you. But it is still there and it is up to you to believe that it is working in the nature around you for your good. So it is with the presence of Christ.
There are also times of trial in our walk when our Sun has completely disappeared and our sense of our Lord’s love is obscured in the blackness of night. These times of great darkness come frequently in the lives of believers, and sometimes it seems with rhythmic precision, just like the day and night of the created realm. And just like in the created realm, both elements are necessary.
Finally, there are the days about which I wrote at the beginning: when the presence of the Lord feels real to our hearts. These days are not absolutely necessary, as our spiritual walks are not based on feelings, but they are delightful. By far more delightful to the soul than even penetrating warmth is to the body.
Yes, our Lord is a Sun. A bright, glorious sun to brighten our lives, warm us with His love, fill our very beings with His presence until we simply cannot absorb anymore. And as the created sun, He sometimes withdraws His face from our lives, but also in keeping with analogy, is working all things for the good of His own from the opposite side of the world, or, of our situation.
What a wonderful, marvelous, awe-inspiring statement: The Lord God is a Sun (Psalm 84:11).
With the expert assistance of Robert Staddon, we are excited to be working on updating our website! Stay tuned… and pardon the “construction dust.” We expect to have several more small changes made in the near future.
If you’ve ever come to the end of an amazingly full, bountifully blessed, truly encouraging weekend, you would understand how we felt after the 2018 NC FEW. Problem is, we only took about 10% of the pictures we would have liked to have taken to document the time with so many precious families. The Lord blessed the time, strengthened us, provided the help we needed, and gave unmeasured grace. Our hearts rejoice in His work!
To summarize the weekend, here are 5 highlights that stand out to us.
4.Spending time praying with and for other families
Praise the Lord for His grace, and for the opportunity to gather with other believers! “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17
We often encourage one another when beginning and/or continuing projects to take things “a step at a time.” What we mean, of course, is that some tasks are simply to big for us to (humanly, anyway) tackle in a short amount of time and will therefore require several segments of dedicated time over many days, weeks, months, and sometimes years.
Another aspect is the encouragement found in Psalm 119:105 – God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet, and a light to our path, and also that our Lord will provide sufficient grace for today. (Matthew 6:34, 2 Corinthians 12:9) From these passages, we can gather the truth that, as we meditate on and delight in the inspired and inerrant Word of God, we will be directed by the Holy Spirit to take the “next step” of our lives, and that His grace will be with us in every dark time through which we must pass.
But how big is a “step?”
I know that when I have a daunting task, it only makes logical sense to work toward the goal in small increments of improvement or accomplishment. If I have a hundred miles to walk, I can’t cross the finish line in a day, or a week, or in two weeks, unless I drop all else and make walking my #1 priority. But what goes into walking a hundred miles, anyway (we’ve already considered the time factor). It’s kind of obvious, really, but at the same time, it isn’t. It’s a case of not being able to see the forest through the trees, if you will. The answer? Steps. Lots of steps. Lots of little, tiny, probably-less-than-two-and-a-half-feet-long steps. Now for a math lesson.
There are 5280 feet in a mile. Multiply by 100 miles. That’s 528,000 feet. Don’t panic yet; that’s not our final answer. And just in case you hadn’t noticed, that’s more than half a million feet. Exhausting. Now let’s divide that by 2.5, since we are assuming that a “step” is 2.5 feet in length. Relief! Only 211,200 steps to take. This should be easy; not even a quarter of a million steps. No problem.
Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. This could get old fast if you dwell on the written form for too long. Even if I only wrote until Step 22 you’d probably stop reading and turn off your computer. But this is a reality. A step is not a quarter of a mile. A step isn’t even tenth of a mile, or a twentieth. It’s just a step. That’s all.
I’ve had quite the time of it, the past two and a half years. A massive road to walk that would require head-aching, skull-stretching, mind-boggling study, experimentation, and work. To me, it was like trying to walk 1000 miles. And to make things worse, the tools I needed to have in proper working order kept malfunctioning. (Imagine if you broke both of your legs on Step 2.)
The grace of the Lord has been so evident in the past week or so. I decided, after a long time of broken-leg-healing, if you will, to try it again. To get back in the saddle. To take my walking sticks in hand and start walking. Just one step, I told myself. I prayed for grace and re-surrendered my life, time, and talents. I determined to stay at it for one hour that first day. That should be almost long enough, if not quite, for 1 or 2 baby steps, I reasoned. I next determined to set boundaries on my stopping time. I couldn’t wimp out and give it a half-hearted effort, but nor could I reinjure my “legs.” They’re still healing, don’t forget.
God’s grace has been amazing to experience. I’ve “walked” 11 Steps! Oh, to be sure, that’s only 27.5 feet – a far cry from even a quarter of a mile (which is, by the way, 1320 feet). But 11 Steps. It’s progress. It resembles the tiny, invisible growth of a seedling. It’s the beginning of the change wrought in the landscape with the passing of seasons. It’s almost imperceptible. But it’s there. It may feel like the step from a fishing boat onto a stormy sea. But there’s a Master waiting to walk with you in your Step of Faith. And that makes all the difference.
Do you ever get the urge to de-junk? I mean, really clean out?
Maybe it’s the arrival of spring that made the urge start to hit me. Or maybe it was the fact that my sisters were cleaning out their homes and sending me pictures. Or maybe it is that book I’m reading about procrastination. Or maybe it was… who know what else. But whatever it was that made the urge start to dawn in my mind, it was a gift from God.
I thrive in a tidy environment. That’s not to say that I’m always a tidy person, though. I’m working on that part. But since I’m able to work at my peak performance when I have less clutter and mess around me, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to spend time getting my personal areas in ship-shape?
So, thus it began. I went to pack clothes for a recent trip, and realized that I didn’t need to have all my winter clothes hanging in my closet through the summer. (More physical space creates more brain space for me. Margin is vital.) I pulled out a stack of items, and went to put them in their respective bins. Upon opening the bins, I found them to be almost full of winter clothes that I didn’t wear at all last year. Why keep them? I can’t. I don’t need to.
A common quote that’s been floating around our house and has even been passed through text messages to long distance family rings in my mind. “I can’t keep everything, you know.” Oh how horrifying it would be if I did!
So thus began my challenge. Can I fill a box of items to get rid of (or maybe even 2!?)?
Would you like to join me on this challenge?
With honor and gratitude to those who have given their all, and to their families who have also known great sacrifice, we wish you a Happy Memorial Day!