Happy New Year one and all! I pray and hope that all of you had a joyous Christmas celebration and an enjoyable time as you welcomed in the New Year. Even though I’ve never been too enthused about staying up late and reveling in the New Year, I still get excited with the change of the calendar as I am always expectant of the prospect of the new and exciting things ahead. For as long as I can remember, I have been one to look ahead, set goals and plan for the future. I may not always meet those goals, but they give me something to reach for, something to hope for!
I guess that’s one reason I like the message of faith that I believe is clearly outlined in the scriptures. As you know, one of my favorite verses is found in Hebrews 11:1 as translated in the God’s Word © Bible where the writer of this book declares that “Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot (yet) see.” If you and I are not expecting anything (or the wrong things)… then we can have no faith that God will do anything for us in this life… and as far as I am concerned, that is NO way to live!
I believe that the Word of God is THE truth on any matter… in any situation…PERIOD! Therefore I choose to keep my thoughts, my expectations and my words focused on His Word. That way I always see a positive future… right? Well… that lifestyle was definitely tested during the waning days of 2016 with Piper’s emergency trip to and short stay in the hospital last week.
Seeing my once perky, outgoing and always encouraging wife lying there in the ER and later that morning in a room upstairs looking pretty pale, frail and unfocused with tubes in her arms can really get someone claiming to be in faith a run for their money! It was with a heavy heart that I left her side to go home to care for the dog and get some needed sleep after being up for a couple of days with only a 1.5 hour nap.
It would seem though, that these are the times and experiences that not only test one’s resolve, but can also act as a catalyst for renewed vision and passion in one’s faith. Suddenly I found myself having to face things in the natural that seemed to be opposite to what I was believing for. Scenarios presented by the Emergency Room staff did little to comfort or encourage me… but they definitely did make me dig down deep, stand my ground and hold on to my foundation of faith that was beginning to shake like the last big earthquake I’d been through in California! But you know… just like that quake that happened in the 1980’s, our house shook, we got bounced around a bit but came out completely unscathed!
As I prayed throughout the experience over the decisions I was being asked to consider for the immediate and long term care of my wife, I heard the Lord simply say “to just take one step at a time.” And with that a calming peace flooded my soul for it was the same advice that I have heard from Him in many of the situations we’ve faced over the last six or more years… and in each of those situations I received the wisdom, the courage and the confidence to do what I needed to do when the circumstances required action on my behalf.
So I listened to their suggestions, made some decisions and have some appointments later on this week. We’ll face each opportunity as it comes with the peace in knowing that we are not alone, that we are not compromising our faith and am doing the right thing for my wife that she needs right now!
Yesterday as I began to study and pray one of the Apostle Paul’s powerful prayers in Ephesians 1:16-23, I opened up my Bible Study program, turned to one of my favorite translations and never got through the first verse! I got five words into verse sixteen and began to have a flurry of thoughts, directions and teaching of the Spirit of God flowing in my head and transferred to the empty page in my note book through the mechanical pencil in my hand.
This verse begins by the Apostle declaring to his readers that “I never stop thanking God…” (Ephesians 1:16 God’s Word ©) As I read those words, our experience over the last few days immediately began to play in my mind like an endless loop and I saw myself repeatedly thanking God from the beginning of the situation in our home through the time both the doctor and nurse wheeled Piper in the wheelchair downstairs to our car and our return home. I don’t think that I actually remembered doing it at the time… it was just like second nature to me!
And I heard the voice of the Lord again as He directed me “to just live one day at a time.” And I instantly understood Him to be encouraging me to not be so focused on the future that I miss the joys of the present! Then I heard an interesting comment that made me pause for a moment or two as I considered the weight of the words that were spoken. The Lord simply stated that He wanted us to “enjoy each day to the fullest extent of the Word…”
I had to ask Him to repeat the sentence as I thought I misunderstood Him and what He meant to say was the more familiar saying of “to the fullest extent of the law…” But no! I heard Him right the first time. He declared that He wanted us to enjoy each and every day of this journey “to the fullest extent of the promises in His Word.” To the fullest extent, potential and provision of what Jesus has already done for us through His finished work of the cross. Well, that sure puts a different, more exciting and more positive spin on life doesn’t it! What do you think about that for your life?
So what’s my plan as Piper and I move forward from the ending events of 2016 and into the new events ahead? To do exactly as He said to us! To live one day at a time. To expect His wisdom, confidence and courage as I need it, to enjoy each and every day to the fullest extent of His Word and to be thankful for every moment of every day! After all… if He is the One in which we have put our trust then each of these steps should be easy… right?
Have a great new beginning to the great New Year ahead. And as you do, keep asking yourself… “How THANKFUL and EXPECTANT of the fullest extent of His Word working in my life am I expecting each day in 2017?”