Hello readers! This week we are excited to share an article recently written by one of our staff missionaries, MarJean Peters. I hope you enjoy reading it and take courage for a brilliant New Year, 2016!
“Jagged snow-clad peaks catch the sun’s brilliance and I marvel once again at God’s mastery in this forgotten, frozen wilderness. Each corner we turn reveals another mountain, another breathtaking view as we drive from Kenai to Anchorage. I’m still mindful of many flights over rugged mountain ranges, across vast tundra and snaking rivers on trips to Alaskan villages, and I’m awestruck by our smallness within God’s greatness!
Another landscape, just as real and just as daunting, stretches before each of us in this New Year. A rugged and dangerous wilderness awaits our footsteps and we catch our breath before entering the unknown. Does illness, injury, harm, loss, change, even death await us in this New Year?
The wisest of men once said, “Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?” (Ecc. 8:7). Though we cannot know what this year will hold, we do know God promised to never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). We do know He promised to continue the work He began in us and to complete it (Phil. 1:6). He also promised to present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy! (Jude 1:24). We do know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose–to conform us to the beautiful image of His Son! (Rom. 12:28). We also know He already took our punishment for past, present, and future sins.
All these things we know. We also know God allows us to go through tough stuff. I don’t think God runs a generational welfare system. I’ve heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That may be true, but I think tough faith-tests make us realize our utter weakness while outside the power of Christ within us (2 Cor. 12:10).
What if God leaves us here on earth, not just to refine and sanctify us, but to reveal Himself to us and to others through our trials? How else can we come to experience and know His love, grace, mercy, and power?
What if God desires a relationship with us more than He wants our performance? Maybe God is not half as interested in how we use our gifts to serve Him as He is about how deeply and personally we know Him and love Him.
What if our walk with Him is not as much about head knowledge as it is about knowledge being tested and tried?
What if experiencing God is not always about feelings? Sometimes we don’t feel God and must choose to believe by faith that He loves us, cares for us, and holds us close to His heart.
What if faith is the key to know and experience God? Hebrews certainly provides a picture of people who kept faith even though they never saw God deliver them from their trials. I’m always rather stunned when I read, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own…they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Heb.11:13-16).
What if God designed and created His kids for a yet hidden, eternal purpose? If so, we must trust Him with all our hearts and not lean to our own understanding (Pro. 3:5-6). He will direct our paths; He will abide with us; He will not leave or forsake us. He purposes good for those who love and trust His all sufficient grace.
What if jagged, mountainous challenges rise before us this year? Paul tells us to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (1 Cor. 4:18). What if we persevere because we see Him who is invisible (Heb. 11:27), catch the Son’s brilliance–the joy set before us (Heb.12:2), and marvel at God’s mastery in the seemingly treacherous places of our lives? Each corner we turn in this next year will reveal another challenge, but also another breathtaking view of God’s love and grace.
What if we choose to fix our eyes on the love and power of Jesus instead of focusing on our own fears of the unknown? God grants faith and courage to follow His lead with faithful endurance and perseverance–just for the asking.