Friday, December 30, 2011

Year-End Ponderings of Faith and Faltering

As 2011 rolls around to its final days, I find myself thinking back on all of the wonder and awe that God has brought about in my life. I think of the many ways He has provided for me and my loved ones; the magnificent times of worship with other believers and how He met us in those places; the hardships I have  had to endure to help me learn to give thanks in all things; and the real and profound voice of God that can be heard by His children when we fervently seek after His face.

Our God is an amazing and mighty Warrior. He is the Prince of Peace. He is a gentle Lover of our souls. He is the Rescuer. He is the Gardener of us, the branches. He is the Giver of Life. He is the Bridegroom. He is our Help in troubled times. He speaks, and His children know His voice. He is the Great Shepherd.

With a God so multi-faceted and prominent in this world of trial and tribulation, how can I wander so far off the beaten path of His ways? How is it, that I look back over the last year of my life and see the tracks of a life that has veered off course so many times? I can honestly say that each and every one of us, whether we have come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ or not, have been tainted with something far worse than "wrong directions" for the course of our lives; we all have been stained with sin. And this thing called sin is most-often overlooked and called by many different names–especially in our "politically correct" society.

Independence. Aggressiveness. Deserving. Concern.

These things all seem to be good things, but looking at the deeper meaning and how they relate to a life of faith will show us just how faded our vision has become over time.

When Adam and Eve first walked in their own way, eating the "forbidden fruit," they were exercising their independence from their Creator, making a bold statement that they felt they knew what was better for their lives over God's supreme rule.

When we are working to make our way in the world, we sometimes learn that to make it to the top, we need to be aggressive in order to beat the crowds. But in doing so, we forget to wait patiently on the Lord; we decide that He must not know what we need or what is best for us, so we forage ahead, usually making the journey a lot more troublesome and difficult than it needs to be.

A major thing that we, as Americans, have bought into lock, stock, and barrel, is the idea that we deserve certain things. We decide–many times with the help of cunning marketing campaigns–that we have worked hard or gone through a particularly tough ordeal, and therefore we deserve certain luxuries like dream vacations or a great big box of chocolates, etc., etc. Sometimes these things aren't so bad, but the level of self-treating in the name of "I deserve it" has reached an all-time high. People are putting major dents into credit cards that they will never be able to pay off, writing checks that their accounts can't cash, and serving up seriously health-debilitating dishes that stress their bodies out, encouraging illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease... All in the name of "I deserve it."

Last, but certainly not least, we spend many of our days worrying about the future, our friends or family members, our health, money, and so much more. We play the "concerned card," making ourselves feel okay about the fact that we are fretting unnecessarily. The number one most spoken command in the Bible is to have no fear. Jesus tells us not to worry. He commands us not to fear. He speaks words of faith and trust to His disciples over and over again, admonishing us to believe in the Word of God, to trust in the provision of the Almighty, to know that our God will supply all our needs, according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

This new year, let us turn our ways to trusting in God's perfect timing. Let us all decide to live our lives to the fullest–lives full of faith in our Heavenly Father.

The prophet Jeremiah says it best:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

May this new year be one of living life to the fullest with faith and trust in God our Father... in our helper, the Holy Spirit... and in Jesus Christ, who is our life.

And Merry Christmas from all of us...

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