Think “happy thoughts” and everything will be okay. As I’m sure you know, it doesn’t usually work that way. Life can be tough. Sometimes happy thoughts are hard to find – even harder to believe. God doesn’t promise a life of ease, a life free of suffering. Just think how shallow we would be if life was always easy, if we were always healthy and wealthy and comfortable. I believe God’s purposes are much greater than our personal comfort. Since the Garden of Eden, God’s greatest purpose has been to restore relationship. Sometimes, or most times, that comes through suffering. When we find we are out of answers, hope, strength, or resources, when we are empty, we turn to Him. When we’ve lost everything, we find that He is all we need. It is in our suffering our relationship with Him grows the most. At least that is what I have found true in my life.
We just returned from the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville. What a rich time! We heard from speakers like Joni Eareckson Tada, Dr. Tony Evans, Raul Reis, Pete Briscoe, Nick Vujicic (Life Without Limbs-born without arms or legs) and two former jihadists. Through all the speakers, the message seemed to be the same-a challenge to be totally committed to Christ and to do “God’s work God’s way.” It’s a profound message not just for Christian media, but for all of us. I’ll be sharing more about the conference over the next several days, but one of the former jihadists warned that America is in a deep sleep and we need to come back to the first commandment, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).” He also talked about the many Muslim converts to Christianity and how that decision may well cost them their lives. He ventured how would making,
“I am willing to die for my faith,” part of the New Believers curriculum in our churches go over?
Good question. Are we truly willing to die for our faith?
“We went through fire and through water, but You (LORD) brought us out to rich (abundant) fulfillment. Psalm 66:12
God doesn’t promise that we will not go through trials (fire & water), but He does promise to bring us out of those trials into a place of rich fulfillment. It seems we can learn things in trials that we could learn no other way. When I go through trials and difficulties and circumstances totally out of my control, my grip on the things of this world is loosened and I hold more tightly to Him. I get my focus off of my circumstances and temporal things and onto Him and things that will last for eternity. Thank for for the trials, and for bringing us through them to that place of “rich fulfillment.” -darla
Jesus said His “yoke is easy,” and His “burden is light.” Honestly, there are times when the Yoke doesn’t seem easy and the burden doesn’t feel light! When I think of a yoke, I picture of team of oxen. What is the purpose of that yoke? It joins the oxen together, giving them direction as they share the burden, and helps keep them from falling. What if one oxen tries to run ahead, lags behind or turns aside? It gets out of step with the team and the yoke pulls hard. The load they carry is off balance and the wandering ox ends up carrying more than its share- the burden is heavy. I know the analogy is obvious, but so often I find myself like that ox, out of step with God – trying to run ahead and get things done or going off in my own direction. I find myself heavy-ladden, weighed down, worn out….needing His rest. Needing to get away with Him to hear His voice and to get back in step with Him, because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. -darla
He makes all things new!
I love new beginnings! I hope that 2013 is getting off to a good start for you. For many, 2012 was a tough year – a year of struggle and pain and loss, it was also a year of growth and blessing. I for one am very glad to turn the page to a new year and a fresh start! I keep thinking at some point I’ll get it all right, but I keep failing and falling and God has to pick me back up, brush me off, steady me and get me going again. I’m just like that little toddler learning to walk, I fall and get frustrated and sometimes just want to give up. And God, our patient Heavenly Father, lovingly picks me up knowing that I am growing stronger and steadier with each step. He doesn’t expect me to take off running with record-breaking speed. No, He wants me to learn how to walk this life of faith step by step, day by day, and He is always there to catch me when I fall – as He is for you. So as we walk into this new year, may we learn to walk faithfully, knowing that He is making us new and that He will complete the good work He has begun in us. Blessings! -darla
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17).” Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work inyou will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).”
We had a fantastic time last Friday! So many people came to our Open House, and it was so wonderful to meet everyone.
Here are a few pictures…