This has been quite a year for so many, and some would say this has been the absolute worse year ever, others would just say it stinks. I’m not sure there’s many at all who would say it’s been the best year; yet, maybe a three year old could have this perspective.
I will say it’s not been an amazingly wonderful year; it’s certainly had it’s challenges. However, I’d have to admit, it’s not been the worst year I’ve ever experienced.
Some of the worst years of my life were the year after my grandfather passed away, or the year we lost our first child after trying to conceive for 13 months, or the year I battled depression for a good half of the year… yeah, perspective always brings sunlight into the day.
1. No matter what comes into my life, with God, I can walk through fire and I can stand in the rain…even if I have to grab the fire extinguisher and maybe a boat paddle!
2. Regardless what the days bring, you still have a choice to take another breath and move forward or clamp down on oxygen and lie down to die…I choose to breathe.
3. Despite the ugly, the tornadic, the chaos or the devastation, there is always hope, you just have to search for it…often times, it will be buried deep within.
4. Although, there may be confusion and uncertainty, if you know the right source from which to draw strength, you will have an endless supply…the Source is your key.
5. Life brings with it all kinds of ups and downs, doubts and fears, turmoil and challenges, questions and very few answers; yet, when you have a firm foundation, those specific answers may not always become easier to find, but the principles to these will be as sure anchor doe your soul.
6. Everyone needs a friend. Choosing to live out your life in isolation and avoidance is just a waste of life! … choose friends carefully, but choose them.
7. Having the courage to call out when you’re in trouble can be scary, and it definitely will make you more vulnerable than many of us like to be, but honestly, having moments of vulnerability brings humility back into our prideful flesh…and the courage it takes to ask makes us all that stronger.
8. Life has been known to bring us lemons, and sometimes, they can be the sourest ever grown, but if you’ll add a little sugar, you’ll find that lemonade to be quite refreshing… mind you, sometimes, you better add a lot!
9. No matter the clouds that brew overhead, always remember, there is a sun still shining. You may not see it today or tomorrow, but keep looking up, and it’s bound to eventually burst forth and warm up your skin.
10. If you believe there is no hope to ever be found, just stop in your tracks, take a deep breath, and place your hand to your heart to feel that beat…if there is still a rhythm, then there is always a glimmer of hope.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
1 Peter 1:13
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…
There is so much truth in this statement, it almost hurts to embrace it.
If you’ve never hiked a strenuous trail, this may not be a reality for you.
If you’ve not experienced the deep exhale of stiff action after a treacherous climb, you might not quite understand.
But if you’ve climbed Brasstown Bald in Georgia for the first time on a hot August afternoon…
If you’ve used your trekking poles to achieve the heights of The Chimney Tops in the Great Smokies…
If you’ve had to take a break as you traveled toward the top of Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge…
If you’ve had to slow to catch your breath as you stretched toward the heights of Pike’s Peak in the Rockies…
If you’ve questioned your abilities as you pushed toward the peaks of Mount Rainier in the Cascades…
And if you’ve ever struggled in life to achieve more than the day before… if you’ve stayed up all night and the next day just to get the job done… you’ve beat your chest through the turmoil, the heartache and depression just to reach the other side of sanity…
Then, you might just understand and appreciate this statement.
Because if you’ve ever climbed the malicious mountain to experience the refreshing breeze and behold the overwhelming landscape of the summit , you’ll fight and claw to encounter the next ascension.
“Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong…”
I wonder how often this is true for us. In this “Me Society” where we live today, it seems so much is about being happy, being satisfied, being fulfilled, even at the cost of someone else’s happiness and satisfaction.
I wonder where we went wrong.
When did it get so important that you’re made happy that it doesn’t matter if, in the process, I am made desolate?
When did it get so determined that your satisfaction could be at the expense of my daily living?
When did it become ok to demand the freedom of one race, one party, one organization or one people group at the detriment of anyone else who might disagree?
Where did we go astray?
Maybe when we began believing the life of a tree was more important than a human.
Maybe when we began determining which life could live and which could die by our own hands.
Maybe when we began believing we could actually give life and take away life by our very own hands and believed we shouldn’t suffer any consequences for the decisions we made.
Evil is evil, and it has been the same since the beginning of time.
The difference today is too many have began calling evil goo and good evil.
And when these things become the norm, no one can escape the fall.
So, where will we go? What will we do? Who will we turn to?
We must go back to the beginning.
We must go back to the moment we went astray.
Return to that place in time and start anew. Repent. Make new choices. Make amends.
It is possible. But we have to see past ourselves to actually make a difference.
In 2019, I’d never have guessed I’d have face masks hanging from my shower wall awaiting to dry.
In 2019, I’d never have thought of driving into our favorite North Georgia mountain town to find one great restaurant after another either closed early, have outdoor seating only, take-out only or have such dismal cleaning abilities that you’d not want to eat there.
In 2018, I never once worried about whom I could hug on a Sunday morning or whom I couldn’t, unless she was a visitor and then, I’d give it pause to not seem too much.
In 2018, I never once thought about how many people across the nation were dealing questions of, “Should I go or stay?”
In 2017, we had concerns around the world about sickness, desolation and fear; yet, we faced it together. We faced it with purpose.
In 2017, we glanced through the hour glass of time, wondering what the future might hold; yet, we glanced with hope, with promise for a better tomorrow.
In 2016, we had disagreements and didn’t see eye-to-eye; yet, that was a “normal” with which almost all of us could live. It was ok to disagree. It was ok to be at odds.
Life just went on.
I wonder how much has to change in 2020 to wake us up from our slumber.
I wonder how many have to be lost before we realize “that normal” is no more and “this normal” is here to stay.
We have to quit “glorifying yesterday” in order to live for tomorrow and be present in today.
We have to quit pointing the fingers and finding the blame in order to live determines and strong.
If we are to not simply survive…
If we are to choose to THRIVE, then, it starts with you and me…
It starts today…
And it must start now.
“Almost universally, when people look back on their lives while on their deathbed […] they wish they had spent more time with the people and activities they truly loved and less time worrying about aspects of life that, upon deeper examination, really don’t matter at all that much. Imagining yourself at your own funeral allows you to look back at your life while you still have the chance to make some important changes.” — Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff
It has amazed me throughout this pandemic how loud the media has shouted and how quiet the church has remained.
It’s been eerily quiet, except for shouts, concerns and finger-points of who should do what, when and how.
It has amazed me how quickly the whole world has given up their freedom and personal rights, even here in America, under the guise of health, security and even “common decency.”
It has been eerily obvious, except for the shouts, concerns and warning signs thrown up by those who recognize this is not what the Constitution nor our Declaration of Independence provides.
Maybe you’ve not read that part recently.
Let me refresh your memory… (Declaration of Independence)
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”
Who gave you the right to remove my rights? Who gave you the approval to dictate to me where I can go, what I can buy, who I can see and where I can eat?
This happens in Communist countries day after day.
This happens in Socialist countries when a crisis arises.
Because the people are dependent upon a higher power to provide.
No matter your political persuasion, if you call yourself an American, don’t get mad and move on.
No matter your religious integration, if you call yourself a Christian, don’t get offended and scroll past.
Please, stay with me here.
It has amazed me how quickly businesses shut down, the economy faltered, and the wallets closed for trade all over the world.
It has been eerily hasty, except for the small businessman who just altered his delivery of food, except for the churches who simply worked a new vantage point to proclaim the gospel, except for the volunteers who said, “Not on my watch, will you struggle and falter alone.”
It has amazed me how quickly many of God’s people shut their doors, curtained their windows, and shielded their mouths.
It was eerily fervent, except for those who cried out for mercy, except for those who swung wide the welcome for shelter, except those who ran to the needy to provide and proclaim a message of freedom.
It has amazed me how quickly many of God’s people walked in fear rather than faith, claiming to rely on the educated, the enlightened, those “in the know.”
It was eerily evident, except for those who called in God’s Name for deliverance, protection and wisdom, except for those who proclaimed His peace, His hope, His love, despite the storm or the outlook, except for those who stepped forward in cautious optimism to say, “He can save. Look up! The Best is yet to come!”
I write this today, not to stir debate, not to bring condemnation, and by no means to try to trivialize the sickness nor glorify a rebellion.
I only write to stir your heart to prayer, to bring conviction where there has been terror and to proclaim His victory over a he darkness.
If we call ourselves Americans, we should never relent our freedom so easily, no matter the declared crisis.
If we call ourselves Christians, we should never surrender our faith and our fight so easily, no matter the size of the giant.
To slay the giant, never proclaim the intricate details of your foe until you have proclaimed the meticulous victories, promises and testimonies of your God!!
2 Samual 17 … read it again, and become like David, not like the Israelites. Walk in courage rather than fear. Ask about the spoils for the triumph. Declare the victory is God’s not yours…nor theirs!