It has occured to me lately how much our God is a God of second chances....and third and fourth and so many more. Ok, many of you now have the song from Vegi Tales "Jonah" in your head. I'm sorry, try to get past visions of singing cucumbers in choir robes for a few minutes and bear with me.
My favorite devotional of all time is My Utmost For His Highest and I love Oswald Chambers insight into all things spiritual. I have a little bit of a peeve for shallow decorative cheesy devotional books. Those little nuggets to read each day that neither challenge or stretch your reality of God. I like to dive into the wisdom of books and read them cover to cover...not a little tidbit a day. With that said I love reading and re reading through this collection of many of his writings and lectures as a Bible professor and army chaplan, put into a daily format. I recently re-read the one put on Dec 31 since I didn't have the book with me while we were on vacation over new years.
As I look ahead into the uncertainties of the future and all the changes that are taking place around me. I can rest in the knowledge that I don't go into the future alone. I might not know what the future holds but I intimately desire to know the one who holds it and he intimately knows me.
Here is some highlights from the New years writing in My Utmost for His Highest.
" God requires that which is past. At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of Gods grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterday's and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.
For the Lord will go before you. this is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our reward. God's hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.
"As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Isreal will go before us.
Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the irresisitible future with Him. "
I love that part!
If you have 'stuff' in your past that keeps you from confidently moving forward, insecurities, mess-ups, blatant sin, missed opportunities, failures, pain...you can leave it with Christ! What an amazing truth. We can drop off the baggage we like to drag around with us from year to year.
Yes, the past may have be all those things to us but we can move forward in God's amazing grace knowing He goes with us. He can redeem our pasts and use them to propel us into the future He has planned for us. We are never beyond the reach of His grace or beyond the borders of His love.
In Him I live and move and breath...in His strength I am able to face the future in confidence knowing it is He who will do the leading and He will do the equipping each step of the journey. What an adventure a life lived in faith is!
When Jesus called a fisherman out of his boat and said "follow me" Peter had enough natural fascination and devotion to step out and follow him. However he was not aware of what he was capable of, he was not aware of the limits of himself and his human nature. His natural devotion was not enough to keep him standing firm when the crises hit. He denied knowing his Lord three times , lying to three different people, after previously vowing that he would lay down his life for Jesus if it came to it. He was ignorant of his own weakness until he came face to face with it.
He had to come to the end of himself. To fall to his knees in dispair and lay aside inflated delusions of noble service. He had to come to the place where he could no longer rely on his own self sufficiency, devotion and strength. Once he had come to that place he became a true disciple. A disciple filled with the Spirit, strength and peace of God. A disciple that could count the cost and go out in faith anyway...even to death. A diciple who was fully aware of his own shortcomings and need for grace.
Jesus did not give up on Peter, even though he was fully aware of his failings and betrayal. He still used him and was able to use him more because of these things.
As I look toward the future and the many changes it might bring to my family, I can do it in full confidence knowing my God meets me where I am at ...and can use me anyway!
"God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you Who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you go out in surrender to Him until you are not surprised an atom at anything He does?"
Let our attitudes be a continitual "going out" in faith this year.
" Have I any confidence in the flesh? Or have I got beyond all confidence in myself and in men and women of God; in books, in prayers, in ecstasies; and is my confidence placed now in God Himself, not His blessings?"
Where do you put your confidence as you face a new year?
"The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you;
He will be with you,
He will not fail you or forsake you.
Do not fear or be dismayed"