Thursday, January 2, 2014

Trusting God

Sometimes it is difficult to trust God, but it is a calling to each of us. God states in Jerimiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (HCSB)

There it is, what more do we require?

Of course, we have OUR plans which more often than not run contrary to those of God.  How do we realign our paths? Trusting in God.

The single greatest story of trust (IMHO) illustrated in the Bible is that of Abraham and the binding/sacrifice of Isaac.

Abraham has been moving around, being shown all the lands he is going to possess for his posterity (even being told that they will endure the 400 years in captivity).  He is wanting an heir, as Sarah is childless and "it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women" (interesting phrase for menopause). They are old and extremely unlikely in natural methods of conceiving a child.

Sarah had previously made the plan and had Abraham lay with her servant and have a child.  As with most plans we come up with, it didn't work out so well.

Anyway, when Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 90, God granted Abraham's wish for an heir and viola, Isaac is on the scene.

Now, that, in and of itself, is a great story of trust, but the plot thickens...

God tells Abraham to sacrifice his ONLY son and heir.  Abraham has had 20-37 years (depending on the references used to determine his age--rabbinical texts, or Ussher's chronology) with Isaac to watch him grow into a young man.  And now he has to sacrifice him.  Doesn't seem right, but Abraham rises in the morning and takes Isaac and some servants with wood and fire and sets of to the mountain to complete what God has told him to do.

Abraham and Isaac part ways with the servants to go make the sacrifice (notice the trust in Abraham's statement to the servants: "I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.- Gen 22:5 ESV).  Did you catch it? Knowing full well that God had commanded him to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham has enough trust and faith in God to tell the servants both he AND THE BOY would return shortly.  Imagine having that much faith and trust.

Imagine the next test of Abraham.  Climbing the mountain with your only son, whom you are to sacrifice to God.  Dreading each and every step that takes you closer to the altar.  Knowing you will obey the Lord and sacrifice your son, because that is what God asked of you. While walking, your boy asks you, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" (Gen 22:7 ESV)

How very heart breaking that must have been!

But Abraham shows his faith in God by replying, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

I can almost hear it, his voice cracking with sorrow, yet pulling out faith to help him through this moment.

Abraham binds his son.  Places the wood around him.  Reaches to his belt for the knife.  Slowly raises it.  And just about when he is about to strike and sacrifice his only son and heir.  The one he waited for throughout the years of barrenness.  It happened. Reprieve! And looking around, sure enough, there is a ram waiting for sacrifice to fulfill the mission.

God has a plan for us all.  We need to be faithful in following the path He has laid out for us.  Be aware of the subtle leading of His voice, and TRUST the Lord will fulfill His promise and provide us a future and hope.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Beginnings

As I have mentioned in the past, my wife is fond of saying “Today is a brand new day, with no mistakes in it.” Along that vein, I will paraphrase it to” this is a brand new year with no mistakes in it.”

We all have had some items from the past year which we probably wish not to repeat. This is your chance for a brand new fresh start. 365 days in front of us to make ourselves, our families, our lives better.

Sure, many people set lofty resolutions for the New Year—many of which are long forgotten by Valentine’s Day. Some of us may stay on track and accomplish them.

I gave up on making resolutions long ago, as I was terrible at remembering them and they usually went down in flames long before the year’s end. Instead, I declare reasonable goals for the New Year. (I know, it is all in semantics—resolution vs. goals—but, I prefer the term goals as it doesn’t feel as weighty or make me over reach what I hope to accomplish)

This year, I have one general goal (celebrate the coming of 2015—as a “terminal” cancer patient, it would be a good thing for me and the family). Additionally, I have set the goal to read through the Bible 4 times following the Bible in 90 days reading plan. I may lower that to 3 times to allow wiggle room for days I am too fatigued to read or work over or am pressed for time due to life, as usual, interfering with MY plans.

Also, I would like to complete another half marathon, but am looking local (McAllen, Texas half in December) and run several other shorter “races”—my kids need more t-shirts to sleep in. I could also stand to lose about 30 pounds and would like to work out more often, as it should help me keep my energy levels in check and help with the fatigue issues.

On the academic side, I need to brush up on my Spanish and start working on my Bachelor’s degree program, I just might survive long enough to need another job in 10 years or so!

As we move forward into the New Year, let’s look to the Bible for guidance. The first four words should be read to start the year, “In the Beginning, God…” What more do we need to remember? God should be in the start of everything we do, through prayer and listening for guidance, moving forward to accomplish what He has for us. We all have a plan written for our lives, we just need to ensure we are looking for and following His plan and not our own.

Happy New Year to all.