New Year

Can God Really Be Trusted in this New Year?

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We've been tucked up into the Colorado Rockies this entire week. A whole gathering of us: children, beautiful in-laws, new family. Though I am often deeply conflicted about Christmas, each year I am astonished at the overflow of love and undeserved goodness.

 

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This year has been no different. But the day after I received a Christmas card and letter that broke my heart. It was from a man I will call Bill. His daughter was my assistant for two summers out at our fishcamp. We loved her. She loved us. She was part of our family. Eight months after leaving us, she took her own life. This year, Bill sent us this beautiful Christmas card

 

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Inside his letter told another story: in the spring, his wife of many years died of a rare disease. And a few months later his other daughter took her own life.

What do we do with this as we stand at the brink of another year? Can we trust God with 2018? Every New Year we laugh and eat and pray at our parties at church or in our homes that this next year will be filled with peace, joy and prosperity. We ALL at least secretly hope for this, no matter how sophisticated or reformed our theology. And yet for some, like Bill, the year brings death and death.

 

What do we do with this? At the start of this new year,  we fly out of the country for four months of constant travel around Europe and Southern Africa. Here in the last three months of travel in the States, one son received death threats with a gun and an attack dog trained on him (in Louisiana), I was nearly run over by a car while crossing the street, an out-of-control semi-truck missed our motorhome by inches. Of course. This is our everyday life, all of us.

In 2018, I hope and pray we'll return home to Kodiak safely. In this new year, I hope and pray for peace, joy and prosperity to ALL of you, my dear friends. But maybe our lives will go like Bill’s this year. I don’t know. 

And though I stand shaking before the uncertainties and obstacles ahead of all of us, I have to tell the whole truth. The whole truth of Bill’s letter and story. The whole truth about God and the year ahead of us all.  Here is how Bill's letter ended:

 

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This is almost too much for me. That a man who has suffered so much loss still trusts and clings to God, still calls Him "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort"?   And he believes that his afflictions will be used for the good of others? Yes.  Some day. 

There is more. I posted a part of Bill's story on my Facebook page, and within hours more than fifty people, none of whom know Bill, were pouring out their hearts before our God of mercies on Bill's behalf:

        **"I cannot imagine the pain of loss that this man bears each day and yet he turns to God each day with praise. Thank you for sharing Bills story and it will be a privilege to lift him up to the Father."

 

    *"Will be challenged to pray that my faith can match his as God continues to hold him close."

 

    *"Lord, I lift this man up to you right now. Please give him comfort and joy in such a dark time in his life."

 

"May God increase Bill's trust and faith exponentially. And thank God for the Comforter."

 

Bill is not alone. 

The same day a dear friend who has endured many losses in her life texted me: "I am so thankful for the beautiful friendship we have. Arm in arm, through many trials, we are together navigating the path to the Celestial City."

Is this not true?  Together, we  are navigating the path to the Celestial City.

You in your church family---together.

You in the Body of Christ---together.

Us, here----together.

The Holy Spirit who indwells us----together. 

We can trust Him in 2018.

We are not alone. 

 

These last three months in our odyssey around the country God has shown us this truth again and again: (Please listen to the song as you watch.)  

 

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."

                                        -------Jesus

 

 How can I pray for you this coming year? (You are not alone.)

Do you know someone who needs this message? Please send it on to them that they may join us here. Together. 

 

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10 Most Failed Resolutions + The One Promise You CAN Keep!





Don't stop making them. Resolutions. Decisions. Promises to yourself and others. Don't stop just because you fail every year,

to lose weight

to get organized

to spend less and save more

to be fully present and enjoy all of life

to get fit and healthy

to learn something new and exciting

to quit smoking

to help others achieve their dreams

to fall in love---for real

to spend more time with your family

to forgive that person in your family who makes you sick with fury. (More on this one later)






All of these (except the last one) are the Top Ten Resolutions Americans make----and break. Only 8% will reach their goals. So we stop, most of us, believing or pretending that a new year can be a new start. Those broken promises lay on us like a corpse and we feel foolish, powerless, helpless, trapped. Like nothing can change, last of all-----us. Little impotent us.










      But we're wrong on every word.  This first day of 2015, this first week is no ordinary day or week. There IS no ordinary day. Not if you remember who made it, who dwells in it, who fills it, who is ready to unleash His own power in it, in YOU. 





And so, like my dear friend Heather Johnson, who has written this, One Resolution, I vow the same. I have ONE RESOLUTION. But it is more than that. It is a promise. And---it is more than a promise. This promise comes with a plan.  And it will make me (and you) 
strong and wise and happy and good and organized and present and loving. (And clean.)



(See how much I need this??)


         But it's so simple, you will be angry with me. You will complain that I led you here to a river bank and simply asked you to dunk seven times in an ordinary backyard slough. You might prefer a doctor's prescription. You might want something much fancier, more elaborate and exotic. Something that costs money, so you know it has value. Something that comes with a 21 point plan and a guru on speed dial for the rough spots. Something flashy that will get others' attention. Something popular, that others will join you in. Something public, to garner attention. Something imported, that you name with an accent so you sound world-travel-y and informed. Something even---heroic.




Instead, it's simple. It's cheap. It's already in your house. Maybe even by your bed. Some people hate it. Some people ridicule it. Some people will name you a simpleton or a terrorist for using it. But their names and mockery don't matter.

And now I will tell you. My One Promise is this:




To read through the New Testament twice this year. With my husband. Following a reading plan (one plan here)

That's it. 




Don't be angry. The world will change because of this. Because of two people falling headlong into the gospels, the words and life of Jesus, the healings, the woes and blessings, the joyful road to the cruel crucifixion, the first church, the stumbling apostles, and everywhere words of God-glory sharding the earth with love so bright---water, hearts and knees will fall.  Crooked backs will straighten, weak legs will climb mountains.  And they will. 







The Promise: One chapter a day. An open kneeling heart and feet ready to walk. And God will do the rest. 

And what is this for?




 “ . . . That you may live a life worthy of the Lord
            and please him in every way: 
              bearing fruit in every good work, 
              growing in the knowledge of God, 
                being strengthened with all power
            according to his glorious might . . ."






This is not an empty hope, a wishful wish. Elsewhere Peter writes, 

"His divine power has given us EVERYTHING we need for a godly life  . . . " 

It's right here in front of us. Beside our bed. On our coffee tables. In our e-readers.




It's a living book, pulsing with the very breath and blood and spirit of God himself. 


This is my One Promise in 2015 and I hope yours as well. 

What will happen?

God will delight in you,

Fruit will fall and fall from your hands,

    blessing others. 

Arms and heart and hope will be muscled strong
     and long,

God will come nearer, dearer,

  His mighty power filling every crack and need, 

Until you're doing it: living a life beautiful 
     
             and worthy of His life. 







He will do it. 

Don't miss this chance.

Make a Promise. Make a Plan. (And when you miss a day or three or thirteen, don't try to catch up. Just step back in on the right day. See---you CAN do this!)

He'll do the rest. 
















(Other years I have done the One Year Bible, which I happily recommend!)

And now----your turn!! What Promise(s) will God enable you to keep this New Year?