Peace In The Storm
One word, "peace," sums up my walk with God in 2016. My head hasn't been in the sand! I know 2016 was anything but peaceful! What I really mean is that lesson after lesson, Father has been teaching me to cultivate peace on the inside of me when everything on the outside was chaotic. 2016 was perfect training ground for that.
Around this time one year ago, my family and I left a good job, our home, and everything comfortable to start over. To rethink ministry. To rethink our purpose. And to gain wisdom and receive training in pursuing our dream -- to plant a church.
At that time, I was really bad at maintaining my peace. It seemed that every little stressful event, disappointment, or discouraging word just threw me for a loop.
In a couple of months, we had moved into our temporary new home (thanks to an amazing church who provided housing for us during this time). Many early mornings were spent watching the sun rise over the hayfields that surrounded us.
As I sat on the front porch, drinking my coffee with my Bible in my lap, and my heart anxious about the unknown future, God would speak to me.
A pair of doves would become regular guests at our home for several months. Sometimes they would visit as I was praying and reading on the porch, even building a nest and laying two eggs in it.
During one of those early visits, watching the doves, I heard God whisper, "This season of your life is about learning to cultivate peace." I was reminded of this promise every time I saw my two little feathered friends.
Looking back a year later, God has done so much in our lives. We live in a much greater measure of peace than ever before, and we are learning to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. We are discovering that the peace inside us doesn't have to be influenced by the chaos around us. In fact, the opposite effect is what God wants for us, that the peace inside us would affect our world around us.
Jesus had so much inner peace in the storm-tossed boat that He slept right through it! Then when He got up, He spoke to the storm, and it ceased. He could speak peace into the situation because He had peace on the inside. God wants the same to be true in our lives.
Vision For The Future
The doves left a few months ago. The abandoned nest still serves as a reminder of what God has done in our family over the past year.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a new feathered friend started making visits -- a hawk.
Sitting on the porch, I watched as this majestic bird of prey would scan the fields from his perch atop the power poles.
I said in my heart, "God, I want to have vision for the future like that hawk does. I want to be able to see further and clearer than I do in regard to what you have for me and family to do."
I heard His familiar voice. "Do you see how high he is on his perch? He sees far and clear because of his position. If you want vision, you've got to come up here."
It's so true! Our vision for the future doesn't come from others' opinions, the next best model for success, or any teaching on vision. Vision that is long and clear comes from drawing near to God's heart. It's about hearing His heartbeat, His emotion, His desires.
The Apostle John received the longest, clearest vision anyone had ever received after he heard the invitation to "come up here" (Rev. 4:1).
The way we see life has everything to do with perspective. We must look to the future from Heaven's perspective if we are going to do great things for the Kingdom of Heaven.
So, don't write off 2016 and say it was "for the birds!" Let's learn from the past and press on to greater things!
I'm beginning the year 2017 full of expectation and excitement. My word for the year is "Vision." Pray with me that our vision grows ever clearer as we pull close to Jesus this year.