Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Journey Is NOT Your Destination

Realizing the significance of another year, while it just seems to be the turn of the hands of the clock, if you seek its connection to the rites of the passages of life, it can project the pain of our purpose that needed to be refined with the hopes of our dreams all wrapped up into the start of the new year it represents.
While it feels as if we are just surviving the stress relating to our struggles, understanding there is definite purpose within,  creates a hope and an opportunity to trust the One who allows what comes into our lives for reasons that we cannot possibly understand and leaves us marked with scars we will honor as well as experience triumphs we cannot forget.
The degree to which God can use us is the degree to which we trust Him.  We cannot possibly know the outcome of our trials, but we can remember the verse that keeps us focused on the end of our struggle.  Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
With each challenge we realize that the world's system is futile.  There is nothing that boasts with any authority of peace or even understanding.  Foolish minds make decisions that have futile consequences and destroy the very essence of what matters or what shows itself true.  When we hope in that system we are disappointed.
Through my own heart, I have grappled with the lack of logic that has at times seemed to prevail in our personal challenges.  I have often wondered why (or perhaps more correctly stated), for how long God would allow evil to have its way.  I have struggled to accept a role of my calling and I have believed God for protection and provision in ways that I honestly KNEW He would sustain and yet it appeared (even through my own eyes at times) that He wasn't paying attention to the degree of necessity for His promises and His character to be accurately reflected within.
I would wrestle with myself, with my lack of belief at times and quickly chastise myself as I would remember that God does allow evil to reign for a time, but ONLY so far as it serves its purposes for which He allows.
I can't take credit for my faith in His love or His power, but I can be thankful and remind myself that I have needed every crumb of that faith for my sustenance.
I look at the world with its efforts of repairing damage that was selfishly created for appearances and I see so clearly the confusion and chaos that man's efforts create.  I wonder why it isn't more obvious to intelligent minds and then I am reminded of James 4:6 which says:  God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  We may feel like the attacks against our families and our culture and even our world is winning at times, but with the assertion of the little faith we have, if directed solely toward Him and what He is capable of, we will be victorious and redirected toward greater purpose that had we not suffered at all.
Do not give in to the seemingly overpowering efforts that can wreak havoc and destroy hope but focus on the One who has the ultimate power and authority over EVERY aspect that is within our existence...after all He created the mind of the human being and He gave them dominion over the earth and all that is in it.  Genesis 1:27-28 says: So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created He them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
When the power is misused and the innocent are the victims (which is more often than not the case because of sin), there is no better focus to place your faith other than on the One who gave it in the first place.  When the power that is against us is great, remember that the power that is for us is greater still when we trust Him.  That trust cannot be represented apart from a relationship with Jesus, but when that is in place, those who oppose you WILL be brought down...it is not a matter of if, but when.
As you are living today to begin another year, remember the victory that WILL be yours.  Remember the life that is yet to be lived for greater purpose than you can imagine and remember the power of the One who desires that purpose to unfold through you. Hebrews 1:10-11, a verse that has always come into clear focus through each adversarial proceeding in my life says: "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
As you walk this scripture out, knowing His love and purpose for you, think of the opportunity to apply a new attitude to your pain in the new year.  If the oppression comes through the efforts of others, think of Psalm 37:7:  "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.  Don't worry (easier said than done ;) about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes." I am living proof of having to push my thoughts away from my tendency to fret about such efforts.  But what I will tell you is that I am also living proof of Lamentations 3:22-24: "The unfailing love of the Lord NEVER ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day.  I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope in Him!"
There is something unmistakeable and unable to be spoken of in words that happens when this becomes reality and you move from your pain to your purpose:  I believe it is because our spirit is in alignment with His and we feel His love which is beyond the ability of human explanation.  There is no other way to know this but through experience...and isn't it just like God that when the pain is so terrific, there is no scene that replaces the one that has been lived out in our heart?
May this new year create a new hope for you.  Regardless of where you are or what you are struggling with, remember Who it is that has the final say, and remember that He is for you, not against you and if He is for us, then who can be against us?  (Romans 8:31)  While the power that can rise against us seems to be relentless, it will end at just the right time and for just the right purpose that will be continued for even greater purpose than we realized before it began.

Looking back upon my journey that left me weary and expectant all at once, I am reminded of a verse I wish I had been more successful in applying and I would encourage you to work at this one above all others:  Psalm 46:10: "Be still and KNOW that I am GOD." If we place our hope exclusively in Him, and apply our energy that is often wasted in worry to this simplistic statement, He will not disappoint that posture of our minds and hearts.  After all, He created our minds as well as our hearts and knows the challenges we have overcoming their natural inclinations.  And when mercy shows itself and grace abounds until, you begin to live your life in a most impactful way that re-energizes your love for Him and your inability to comprehend His love for you.