"Creation & time are the theatre of God's glory."
Last sunday in church, our pastor preached a sermon based on Revelation chapter 22. It is the last chapter of the Bible. At the bottom of the page was the quote above. I wrote it there sometime in the past. I don't recall when. And I wrote the name of John Calvin beside it.
I feel those words are worth keeping in mind as we enter this new year. We all have a role to play in this world and a very short time to play it. It is important to remember that we are not the stars in this "production." It's not about us. We have bit parts. We are "small fish" in a very big pond. We are, at best, only supporting "actors."
The older I get, the more awesome I realize God is, the more I understand that he is a Soverign Orchestrator in this earthly theatre. And the reason for it all, the reason for my being, the reason for your being, is to glorify Him with the life that we live.
That said, I fear that I often miss the mark in this regard. Have you ever felt this way? Sometimes we are dealt hardship and disappointments. Sometimes it seems like life is one disappointment after another. Have you ever felt that way? If not, you will. That's just the way life is. And it's that way for a reason. Pain builds character. Disappointment leads to humility. Pain and disappointment draw us, if we are sensitive to such things, closer to God. Pain and disappointment in our own lives also gives us empathy for others when they experience pain and disappointment in their lives.
Some disappointments and difficult situations we bring on ourselves through disobedience and rebellion against God's laws. Or, to put it in Biblical and agrarian terms, we reap what we sow. When we sow disobedience, the consequential harvest of heartache may not manifest itself until long afterwards. Some people never make the connection. Some do but refuse to think about it. Some do and they go to the Lord, asking forgiveness. And He gives it (John 6:37). Better yet, those who go to the Lord through his son, Jesus Christ, become "new creatures." The old things are passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17). Life takes on a whole new perspective when we trust in Jesus Christ.
The problems and disappointments and pain don't always all go away when we become new creatures. Sometimes life gets even harder. Fact is, it's hard to live a God-honoring life in the midst of a God-dishonoring worldly culture, a culture that is at war with God's law and the truth of who Jesus Christ is.
And perhaps the hardest part of all is raising children within this context. The ungodly culture targets children, especially "adolescents" or young adults. They are prey. They are the prize. I see this with incredible clarity. But do my children? I think that they do not, at least not with the clarity that I do. Certainly not with the concern that I do.
Raising children is easy... when they are young and dependent and easily protected. And every young parent is confident they will do a fine job of it. But when the children get older it is a whole new "ballgame." My children are getting older. More and more, I stand on the sidelines watching them play the game. Hoping and praying and urging, that they make the right decisions. Hoping and praying that they see the snares. Hoping and praying that they sow seeds now that will bring a harvest of joy and peace in their lives. And when one of them fails to see, or fails to heed, or fails to care, it breaks my heart. It is a familiar story.
I look into this new year with the same vision that I had last year. Nothing in that respect has changed. But I have my moments of weakness, of doubt, of discouragement. Even still, I press on because the vision is right. It is, I believe, God-honoring. It is, I have no doubt, right and true and worthy. I see no other course. My only fear is that I am so ill suited to lead my family in righteousness.
God only knows what 2008 will bring to my family, or yours, or this nation. I suspect we are in for a bumpy ride in the months and years ahead. Difficulty, Hardship, Heartache. But in the midst of it, I take great consolation in five life-changing truths: 1.) God is in control. 2.) Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) willingly gave his life on the cross. 3.)Those who call Jesus Lord are God's children (Romans 8:15-17). 4.) God loves His children. 5.) He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.
Here are three verses that I think I'll adopt for 2008:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest
This blog entry has been "off-the-cuff." I wanted to use the quote from Calvin and just started writing. It turned out to be a reflective ramble. I guess I'm in a reflective mood. I guess that's pretty typical when you stand between the old and the new, looking back and looking ahead.
In any event, here's wishing you and yours a blessed 2008.
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