If you read history you will find that the Christians that did the most for the present world are the ones that thought the most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot, the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, and left there mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you get the earth “thrown in,” aim at earth and you’ll get neither.
– C.S. Lewis
As I ponder these words of C.S. Lewis, I’m humbled as I consider my own life and walk with God.
Its been a revealing year.
Perhaps it has felt like one of the biggest storms to hit many of our lives! Not only personally but globally! Perhaps it has felt like an awakening where everything has been shaken and as we come to the end of one year looking into another we know there will be an aftermath with extremely challenging days ahead.
We’ve never been this way before.
It’s remarkable that throughout history, we see how humanity has displayed such resilience with a desire to survive and keep on living and keep on giving through the toughest of times. Wars, famine or disease aren’t anything new but for many of us around the world today – the extent of this current pandemic has revealed so much more. Its been overwhelming and has revealed how much we have become a global community thats interconnected and interdependant upon each other in so many ways.
Throughout history we learn how these difficult times make their mark in the world, how humanity, cities and nations are reshaped and changed forever. We see unseen hero’s outwork radical acts of service, even sacrificing their own lives for the sake of others and from generation to generation we see the journey of life experience pain, death, sorrow, grief and joy. This year brings our very own experience with songs of lament rising.
Its been a revealing year.
Yet somehow hope always prevails and paves a way – no matter how tough it is – we will get through this. We will find strength with the help of the spirit of joy. We wil find strength through community. Leaning into joy will strengthen us amid deep sorrow. Joy will help us to carry on. Joy will sustain us and maybe even surprise us. The joy of always knowing that no matter how dark the days may feel – our Father has a divine plan to redeem the earth. He is making all things new. His promises still stand and His plan hasn’t stopped being outworked. His grace and mercy is so deep and wide. His kingdom is still advancing.
God is at work through it all. He is always in the midst of dark stormy days. He is peace. He is light. His ways are so much higher, so much greater than ours, even when we cannot see the way ahead or fully understand what is going on. It’s the mystery of this life that we learn to embrace. We learn to trust Him. Rest with Him. There is a mystery with the story of the gospel and His Kingdom that we are a part of. We learn to be content with not understanding everything, leaning into the Holy Spirit and trusting in the wisdom of God – who is a good, good Father no matter what unfolds.
His desire is for us always to see the bigger picture through the eyes of His heart and with heavens perspective in mind. Your kingdom come – your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The one who promises to always be with us and never leave us nor forsake us. His promises will always prevail throughout every generation.
Oh how we need His help in these days to remain faithful and obedient to the call for the sake of the world. To partner with Him in playing our part to see His plans accomplished with redeeming the earth and making all things new. We are not alone. He is with us. He will make a way where there seems to be no other way. He will lead us through.
Will we follow Him?
As I look back on this year – its been extremely tough in so many different ways. Yet it’s been one of the most enriching times of my life. With everything stripped away. Its been a revealing time with a seasoned opportunity to go so much deeper in my walk with Jesus. To allow my heart to be restored, to allow fresh faith to arise and miracles unfold. Embracing this season will reshape and change our lives if we allow it to. Change is never easy – change is always painful but with change there is always transformation and even healing to be found.
There were two choices at the beginning of this pandemic – to thrive or to simply survive. Let’s not miss what the Father has been desiring to do and what He has been preparing us for. Time to surrender our hearts and return to the Lord. Let us continue to come before Him with thanksgiving and praise. Let us humbly kneel before the Lord our maker. Let us repent and pray that He will come with grace and mercy and heal our land. Let us never give up encouraging and spurring one another on as we see that day approaching. Let us love one another and forgive whatever grievances we may have. There is too much at stake in these days. Life is precious. The bride of Christ is precious. Let us honour Christ and His ways. Let us honour one another and treasure these days. May we see a harvest. May we see many more hearts and lives encounter Jesus. May we see the prodigals come back home.
Its been a revealing year.
Time to rediscover what is really important in life – abiding with Christ, family, friends, neighbours and community. I’m so thankful for the kindness, goodness and faithfulness of God. His nearness through every passing moment of every day. His joy a fresh discovery for daily strength. This year is one to deeply treasure and never forget or regret. It has the potential to bring the biggest shift and change to our lives, culture and society that we may ever see. It calls for us to pay attention to what’s unfolding and to tune our ears into hearing the sound of heaven and listening to what the spirit of God is revealing and saying. His voice we cannot ignore, for He is speaking and He will have His way.
Has He got our attention?
As we look ahead into 2021 one of the biggest challenges we may face – is how we savour, treasure and honour what the Father has been doing in the secret place, underneath the surface of our lives, in our homes, with our families. Have you sensed His presence there? The hidden work of the Holy Spirit who has been desiring to go so much deeper. Revealing the state of our hearts and our broken lives. Perhaps turning our world upside down and inside out. Taking us along a path where we have never been before. Restoring a righteous realignment to His ways.
This year has been no ordinary year and there are temptations we may face – falling asleep during this time, allowing our hearts to grow cold and simply sliding back into what is comfortable, secure and familiar – rather than pressing on into the unknown – a new era that’s opening up a way for us to walk in radical faith. To truly live out our faith as an Acts kind of people. Walking along unfamiliar paths where we have never been before. Allowing for new wine to flow and seeing signs, wonders and miracles.
As I come near to the end of this year I may grieve many losses – or a world I once knew. I want to grieve those well but I also desire to learn through this time in life- to allow myself to be changed to become more like Him. Even though the end of this year looks and feels very different from the last one. This is the time of year when its so important to look back and reflect with a desire to move forward with fresh hope. I’m thankful that hope has always been with us. Hope will always sustain us and hope will always lead us into places that our hearts yearn for. We may not know what the pathway ahead has in store for us in 2021 but I pray we do not miss what the Father is asking of us now.
Let us not miss what He would desire to do in and through our lives. May we embrace 2021 with courage and faith as we continue to walk along a path where we have never been before. May we surrender our hearts and return to the Lord as we enter a new year. May we have the strength to stand firm in the midst of the storm and waves. For our God is with us.
Its been a revealing year.
May we become a people who do the most for the present world with our thoughts on the next and may we partner with Him, playing our part in redeeming the earth that leaves a mark for Him.