This past fall, our oldest began his first year of college. The day of his leaving was a day I had both dreaded and looked forward to... Dreaded because I knew I would miss him terribly, but looked forward to because as a parent, it's what you spend 18 years of your life (and theirs) working towards, preparing them for life... My mom calls it packing their suitcase. For the last 18 years, she has regularly reminded me to consider what am I packing in their suitcases that will equip them for life.
On that day, my last day to cram some last minute lessons into his suitcase, there were a million things I wanted to say, to remind him of... What was the most important? What was I afraid he would forget? My brain was full of things I had told him a million and one times, and yet, I didn't want to nag and drive him crazy for the hour + ride to college. So we loaded up the car and the truck and headed off. I was blessed that day to have that hour to myself, with just Zack, as my husband and other children followed in the truck. Since Zack was going to college without a car, we let him drive and that's where I found my send off lesson!
As we drove, I noticed that everytime he would talk to me, he would take his eyes off the road and look at me and when he did, he drifted to the right. A couple of times, we came awfully close to an 18 wheeler in the lane next to us and that's when it hit me (thankfully not the 18 wheeler)... I knew what I needed to leave him with (besides a driving lesson!!)... "Zack," I said, "you need to learn, you always travel in the direction that you're looking towards! And I don't just mean physically, but spiritually too! Keep your eyes on God and you'll walk in His way, take your eyes off of Him and you'll end up in the wrong lane, maybe in the path of one of life's 18 wheelers that can do an awful lot of damage."
But the same is true for all of us... If our eyes aren't fixed on our Heavenly Father, there is no telling where we'll end up! Greed, materialism, bitterness, anger, doubt, fear, addiction, loneliness are just a few of life's 18 wheelers that can take us out and steal the abundant life from us. So I thought as we head into the New Year, it would be the perfect time to fix our eyes on God and remember who He is and how much He loves us... These are just a few of my favorite verses that help keep me focused in the right direction, even when I'm tempted to look at some of life's 18 wheelers...
Romans 5:8 "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 'Shows' in the Greek means to prove, exhibit, establish... So while we were still sinners, in other words, while we were God's enemy, wicked and devoted to sin, God proved, exhibited His love for us!
How? Not by fixing all of our problems! Not by changing our circumstances! He did it by sending His very own Son to die for us! Think about your very worst enemy... Would you give your child to save their life? That's a tough one! But that's what God did!! In the coming year, most likely all of us will experience some kind of trouble. Don't define God by your circumstances!! Trust His love and let the greatest sacrifice of all time assure you that God is good and you are loved!
Isaiah 43:2-3 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." No matter what you face, God is always with you... No matter how big your circumstances seem, they will not consume you or overwhelm you, if you keep your eyes on your Heavenly Father! He WILL lead you through!!
Isaiah 61:1-3 (This is the passage that Jesus quoted from when He began His ministry in Luke 4:18-19, it is a beautiful prophecy of Jesus!) "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair." God is the God of redemption! He can take anything and bring beauty from it. No matter what life looks like, or has looked like in the past, trust God to redeem and restore!
Proverbs 21:1 "The King's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, He turns it wherever He will." I can't tell you how many times that verse has brought me peace... When we were adopting our daughter from China, the heart of the Chinese government is held by God and He directs it wherever He chooses... When my husband's company was competing for an important contract, I remembered that the heart of the management was held by God... when our son needed to change to a school that was full, I remembered that the heart of the headmaster was held by God. And here's the thing, when you remember that, it might not always work out like you want, but you can be assured that it worked according to God's will, because no one can thwart God's plans!
In Psalm 73:25-26, the Psalmist wrote, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." HE is enough! He is our portion, our sufficiency, our source of life. When we keep our eyes on those truths, when we know God as He is, not as we want Him to be, or defined by our circumstances, we will live the life He longs for us to know, the abundant life, one that is full of peace, joy, compassion, selfless sacrifice, grace and mercy, no matter what our circumstances look like.
May we begin 2013 with our eyes firmly set and may we not be moved. If you have verses that help you stay focused on your Father, I would love for you to share them!
Happy New Year!! Sharla