Thursday, December 25, 2014

An Eternal Hope

I love teaching kindergartners. Children always give me a feeling of hope. Whenever I talk with them or spend time with them, I see a world of possibilities and energy and imagination and ideas. They think nothing is impossible. They are ready to try anything. They are curious and eager to explore. And, if they encounter difficulty, they keep on trying. They are always hoping and pressing on.

As an adult I often venture into the world with a hopeful attitude. But often that hope is in my own ability or the circumstances or my knowledge or just strength of will. That kind of hope is situational. It depends on what I can do or what others can do for me.

Today we face a world full of reasons not to hope. Challenges to our families, our children, our own selves seem to come at us from every side. It’s a time “rational” thought would say is hopeless. Situational hope evaporates. But God is a God of eternal hope.

In Romans, Paul wrote that Abraham believed, hoping against hope, that he would become the father of man nations. “Rational” thought would say this was impossible. Nothing in the situation gave hope. Abraham and Sarah were too old to become parents. But Abraham put his hope in God and God’s promise; God fulfilled His Word.

Mary faced a similar situation when the angel came to her. “Rational” thought would drive out earthly hope; a virgin cannot have a baby. But Mary believed God, put her hope in God to fulfill His Word. And He did.

The baby that God sent is a child of hope. The hope of a Messiah. The hope of rescue from a life of bondage to sin. Hope that life is more than this earthly existence. Hope that conquers any situation or circumstance. Our Sovereign God, our God of grace, give eternal hope through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His Son.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Journey vs Destination

We like to drive. In fact, most of our past vacations have been about driving around and not necessarily getting to a certain place to do something. Even now, when I'm feeling restless, we will just drive around for a while. The enjoyment, the important part, is the traveling together and enjoying what we see along the way. The journey is more than just marking time until we reach a certain place.

This week I suddenly realized something. I've been thinking about this "middle" time as just a means to an end. This time of waiting and trusting is more than just an in-between. It is not just marking time until the next important thing.

This is the next important thing.

So often in the past months, I've been doing what I need to do. But when any opportunity shows up, I think, "This is the one that will get me moving again. This will be the next important thing."

I've not been enjoying the journey. I've not been paying attention to what is happening right now. Or at least I've not been seeing what's happening now as my "real life." It's just been a way-station until I get to the next part of my real life (in my view).

But that's not true. This is my real life now. I've had great time to think and write. I've had opportunities I wouldn't have been able to experience. I've enjoyed those experiences but not relished them as an important part of who I am and what I do. I haven't seen those as part of what God has called me to do overall - they've just been part of what's happening now.

I've been too quick to say, "I'm not teaching now but ...." I feel apologetic about what I'm doing now. And I shouldn't. God has led us to this exciting and challenging journey.

But this is my life now. My real life. The position God has called me to right now. It may last a few more weeks or a few more months or longer. We don't know when things will change or when God will call us to something new. This is our journey and destination at the moment.

We will enjoy the journey as we live it. And relish each moment along the way.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Room for Doubt?

I wonder. Did Mary ever doubt? Did Joseph wonder about things in the midst of Mary's pregnancy? After all, they faced some pressures from their culture - Mary pregnant before marriage; Joseph marrying her instead of putting her away in disgrace.

I know that God called Mary and Joseph for their specific purposes and they willingly obeyed and submitted to His call. But they were people, too. I wonder if they had moments when they were really unsure about this path they were on.

Sometimes I wonder if I have blundered into a wrong path. If where I am is God's leading or my own wanderings. I wonder how things will come together. I wonder if I'm foolish to subject my wife to uncertainty. I sometimes feel doubtful that we're being recklessly obedience and are just being reckless.

Is there room for doubt in a life of reckless obedience?

I think that we should continually listen and reflect. We should evaluate what we are doing in light of God's leading through His Word and His people.

I worry that doubt is showing a lack of faith. But I'm learning that perhaps doubt can be an avenue to strengthen my faith. When I wonder about my path and pray and listen and read and pray again, I am continuing to try and align myself with God. If my wondering leads to more focus on Him, then that "doubt" can renew my commitment and faith.

Paul wrote:
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6).

I never doubt God. I do doubt my understanding of His will sometimes. But He will continue to work to complete in me what He purposes. I must listen and pray and trust.