The Blessings of 2013: Joys and Hardships

Wow! This coming Wednesday will be the start of 2014. It’s amazing how time seems to go faster and faster as I get older. That’s a cliché to be sure, but it also forces itself into blatant clarity with each New Year.

As I look back at 2013, I see the usual ups and downs that any year brings. There have been times of happiness and times of sadness. There have been times of success and times of failure. There have been times of victory and times of defeat. We’ve made a few new friends, grown closer to friends we already had, and had to say goodbye to some others. Debi and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and commemorated the 1st anniversary of the loss of a beloved pet.

This year has also brought some less usual ups and downs for us.

We were able to attend several wonderful theological and apologetics conferences in 2013. These included the annual dinner put on by Embrace The Truth International, the Apologetics Book Release event at Oakland Christian Academy with Dr. Norm Geisler, the Reliability of the Scriptures event with Dr. Norm Geisler and Dr. Ron Rhodes, and the two-day Sola13 conference in Lansing, MI with Dr. John Piper and many other excellent speakers. This was a great year for conferences.

In the area of spiritual enrichment, my study of Luke’s gospel account with Chris Samuel has been a huge boost. Chris has kept me on track with studying the Bible and has challenged me spiritually and in the area of moral accountability. This is a primary means of spiritual growth for me. I strongly encourage every man and woman to meet regularly with an accountability and Bible study partner.

This year has also included much loss and difficulty for us and our families. Debi lost both of her grandmothers during 2013. Both of my parents have been diagnosed with very serious health issues. We applied for membership with SEND International with great excitement, expecting our lives to take a major turn in that direction, but earlier this month we were turned down.

So, 2013 has been chock full of highs and lows. We’re not sure what 2014 will bring. It promises to start off with the continued difficulty of my parents’ health and some possible financial difficulties for us, but nothing else is clear.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

We know for sure that, because we’re both actively following Jesus, we continue to be secure in the grace and love of our Lord. We know that the spiritual growth God has started in our lives, he’ll continue to perfect, sometimes through hardships. We know that God will continue to use us as he sees fit in the areas of missions, apologetics, discipleship, and other areas that only he knows.

We know that he’ll continue to hold us up, give us the strength necessary to serve him, and accomplish his will in our lives. This is especially true as we follow hard after him. We know that we can cast all of our cares on him, because he’s intimately aware and concerned for every minute detail of our lives; he loves us both that much.

We know that God will bring us safely through whatever hardships we face in life. We know that, in him, we have a joy that is beyond expression, even when all of life seems to crumble around us. We know that, because our citizenship is not with any nation of this world but is in Heaven, when he does decide to take us out of here, we have a home waiting for us with him.

In this world we have trouble. That’s a promise given to us by Jesus himself, and it’s become more evident to us in 2013 than in years past, and it looks to continue to be true for us in 2014. But he has also promised us that he has overcome the world, and through that promise Debi and I can serve him daily regardless of life’s troubles.

I am truly thankful, as this year comes to a close, that I am a child of the King. I am thankful that God has given me Debi as a life partner with whom I can serve, suffer, and celebrate. I’m thankful that God has promised us that he will never leave us to deal with life’s difficulties alone. I’m thankful that God promises us everyday that he will be with us through the surging waters of this turbulent life. And I’m especially thankful that there’s a home waiting for us at the end of this life, because he has sent his Son to save us from the bondage of sin, and because we’ve trusted in that.

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