For me there are three thoughts that have dominated my time of reflecting; thoughts that flow out of a core belief and an identified sense of purpose for this season of my life.
A rich part of my Christian experience is knowing that there is a God, that we are in a covenant relationship, that He loves me and wants to break into my life and lead it in ways that are consistent with His purposes, and in a way that will cause me to flourish as the man He has created to be. For me, I have to continually cycle back to this core belief to recalibrate my heart; it is the very foundation of my relationship with God. And in a strange but wonderful way, it has sustained me and renewed me for the past 40+ years.
As well as cycling back to this core belief, I have also been reflecting on what I have identified as my purpose during this season of my life -- a three-fold purposes that flows out of the covenant relationship I have with God and the values that guide my life of faith: to learn to live in, to rest more fully in the presence of God and to align my life and service accordingly, living as a beloved child of God and a worshipper of the King; to be faithful to His calling in my life, participating fully in His Kingdom / His Church, faithfully proclaiming and living out the truth of God in my sphere of influence, serving and giving and seeking to do good and bless others as God gives opportunity; and to be a blessing to those in my relational world, especially those closest to me, to cheer them on and give to them a legacy of faith and trust.
I find myself dwelling on the words of David in Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
(Psalm 23:1-3) In these words I seek after more of God's presence and to learn to rest in Him, the One who sees and cares. I need continually to be reminded, I am the beloved of God.
As one who has struggled with a sense of restlessness, the words of the Apostle Paul speak to me as we enter a New Year: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13) The truth is, none of us know what 2019 will bring; some of our friends are facing days of uncertainty; we would all do well to learn what is to be content, to abide more fully with our Lord.
I continued to be challenged by Paul's words to the believers in Rome: We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8) I live with an awareness of my responsibility to be faithful to His calling in my life and also of just how weak and frail I am in my own strength. The words of Jesus continue to speak to me: apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
You have heard me say time again, we have so much opportunity to do good. We have been given so much and the New Year brings with it incredible opportunities to bless others. Paul writes: Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) May we be found faithful in doing good!
There is one final reflection I want to share with you as we enter a New Year. It's a thought that was impressed upon my heart as new Christian, as 17-year-old, and now I as I journey through my 60th year, continues to bring perspective to my life. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2) There is much in this life to enjoy and our Father has invited us to live life to the fullest, but always with one eye on eternity--may that be our experience as we walk into a New Year and continue our journey together at Valley.
Happy New Year, friends!